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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Boulder Belt CSA Lives

So I did something I did not think I would do again for a long time if ever. I started up the CSA again. The market season ends for us in less than 2 weeks and the store has been dead for the past month and it is not looking like there will be carloads of people flocking to the store to buy fresh and local produce in November so I got a bit desperate the other morning thinking about how we have quite a bit of stuff planted for fall winter sales along with long storage items like garlic, onions, potatoes, etc., and no real market for it all.

So I thought why not see if I can get any interest in a short winter CSA so I sent out an email to everyone on the official boulder belt email list and within an hour had 5 seriously interested people and within 4 hours 4 of the five had committed (and I believe the 5th potential member is a go as well).

The ressurection of the CSA upset Eugene for a while but he seems on board with it. He's worried that we won't have enough food and if we were going the entire winter instead of November through mid January I would agree. But a 6 week CSA should be no problem for us. I also told him there would be no delivery so none of us have to drive food anywhere. The members will come here and pick up their food. And hopefully the members will take advantage of being physically on a farm and walk around and see the sights.

My ressurecting the CSA with a short winter affair now has the two of us thinking about doing the CSA pretty much year round and replacing the Tuesday market with the CSA. If we can get 10 members at $25 a week we will be making more than what we averaged this season at the Tuesday market. And we won't have to pack up stuff in the van, drive 30 minutes to Oxford and unpack it. Set up our farmers market stand, sell food in all weather, repack the stuff, load it back in the van, drive home and unload before we can relax at 9pm or so. If we can sign up more members, even better. But with the "you have to drive out here to get the food" condition I don't really expect to get more than 10 to 20 members for the summer season.

I really got burned out on doing the CSA and killed ours about a year ago (or was it two?). The CSA had become a delivery service and was not doing what I wanted it to do, which is to connect eaters with the farm. If we deliver the food and the CSA members never come out to the farm how can they connect? It got so bad over the years that we did not even know all our members. They would sign up through the web via our Local harvest Store and come by the drop point and get their food. yes we got our money and they got their food but the whole idea about connection simply was not there. Nor was their any community in our CSA (CSA BTW, stands for community supported agriculture). So after 10 years I decided it was time to not do CSA.

So Boulder Belt was no longer a CSA and we were pretty damned happy about the decision. And now I have ressurected the thing but with a deep change. We will not deliver food shares to our members (as has been mentioned several times in this post). They have to come to the farm to pick up their shares and it is my hope when they do they will become engaged in the farm and therefore much, much more engaged in their food and start paying attention to the state of agriculture as a whole. The fact the members have to pick up their shares here on the farm also means no longer will we have mystery members and thus community will be far better served.

1 comment:

jason said...

I'm very excited to be joining the CSA, and I'll be fascinated to learn more about winter farming in Ohio. I agree with you that "community" is the most important term in CSA. It's not just a "good deal" on produce, it's a way for us to build community, share knowledge, and rethink what it means to farm and to eat. Onward with the CSA!