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Monday, December 11, 2006

Killing the CSA

A few weeks ago the Free Will Astrology in the Sunday Dayton Daily news told me I would have a complete change of heart about something I really believed in. This being astrology outta the paper I thought to myself, yeah...right.

The next day I was reading a post on the marketing section of Garden Web about CSA and how ATTRA polled a lot of CSA farmers and CSA shareholders and found the two had wildly different ideas about CSA. farmers see CSA as a way to market, sure. But more importantly as a way to connect people with their food and a farm by getting them to interact with the farm. CSA members, on the other hand, see CSA as a way to support local farms by buying shares and picking them up at a drop point with little/no interaction the farm or farmer.

This has been my reality with CSA for the past 10 years (with the exception of year 3 when we had 5 members and all 5 were huge into participation and came out several times a week to help work and came to all the potlucks and other on farm events. Of course, every one of these folks moved out of the area that fall/winter so none rejoined the next season). I want a CSA that will connect the members with the soil and the members basically want a delivery service. For many years I tried to make this work in my mold and I was basically hitting my head against a wall. I would require some sort of on farm participation and would get fewer and fewer people rejoining each year because everyone wanted less interaction with the farm and more convenience. So around year 5 we started delivering the shares to remote drop points and farm interaction swiftly went away. By year 7 I could not get any members to even come to a farm dinner and this past season (year 10) I decided that if I was going to deliver I would charge dearly for that convenience because I really feel that CSA members need to see the farm where their food is grown.

So 3 weeks ago I had a talk with Eugene, who has never been very high on the CSA idea, about killing Boulder Belt CSA and he was into the idea. And after having only one member for 2006, who chose to pay a hefty price for delivery so he would not have to have any interaction with the farm, I decided it was time to put Boulder Belt CSA out of its' misery.

2 weeks ago I deleted the CSA from my Local Harvest Store and this afternoon I deleted the CSA page and all links to it on my website. It took all of 3 seconds to delete the page. It's kinda sad and kinda freeing. Yesterday I went around the web to various sites that allow free farm pages and deleted the CSA from several of those. But I am sure there are a few I have forgotten about and there is at least one I cannot update but in time Boulder Belt CSA will be gone from the net.

Bye bye CSA maybe I will visit you again some day. But until than, I will put the energy I was throwing at the CSA into the farm store and the farmers' markets

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