Recently we have been researching local Community Support Agriculture (CSA) groups to find out how they operate successfully. There are a growing handful of farmers who are selling locally at Farmers Markets and not all are Certified Organic. However there are also a growing number of farmers globally who are setting up their own market within the umbrella of an organisation called the Community Support Agriculture.
CSA generally is the practice of focusing on the production of high quality foods using organic or biodynamic methods. This kind of farming operates with a much greater-than- usual degree of involvement of consumers and other stakeholders – resulting in a stronger than usual consumer-producer relationship. The core design includes developing a cohesive consumer group that is willing to fund a whole season’s budget in order to get quality foods.
CSA is different from buying clubs and home delivery services, where the consumer buys a specific product at a predetermined price. CSA members purchase only what the farm is able to successfully grow and harvest, in essence CSA members share some of the growing risk with the farmer. Wow! How good is that! Therefore if the strawberry crop is not successful, the CSA member will share the burden of the crop failure by not receiving strawberries for the season or receiving lower quality strawberries. CSA members are also more actively involved in the growing and distribution process, through shared newsletters and recipes, farm visits, farm work-days, advance purchases of shares, and picking up their shares.
Food provided generally is a range of vegetables and fruit but there is a growing number of other products which include organic coffee, milk, cheese, eggs, tofu, soy milk, honey, peanut butter, avocado oil and sauce.
In our last Gold Nugget we promised to tell you about a vegetable and fruit grower who has presold his produce up to 5 years ahead!!! His name is John Peterson who is travelling the world with his film “The Real Dirt on Farmer John” to encourage farmers to join him in taking complete control of their market by setting up their own CSA. At one stage he nearly lost his farm but by establishing a CSA, John is now able to travel and have his farm run profitably and service 1000’s of consumers with good healthy food.
Are you interested in forming a CSA enterprise to distribute ecologically sustainable, affordable produce for a fair dinkum financial return? By encouraging members to choose local, each CSA contributes in very tangible way to building an ecologically and socially sustainable world. You too could join them and guarantee a viable future for yourself and for your community. It may seem surprising but there is a lot of interest in good nutritious food and in knowing how it is grown and where it has come from and city folk are willing to pay for it.