A year ago if you asked me if I was doing a CSA as a marketing strategy I would have sneered and said been there, done that, ain't gonna do it again. What a difference a year makes. As regular readers know, we did a small and short (12 week) winter CSA. We limited the program to 6 members, though we could have done 10 easily. Doled out the shares every other week starting in mid November and went til the 3rd Saturday in January, than we stopped. There were few problems on our end-Christmas week was a bit dicey on scheduling due to the pick up day being 2 days after Christmas and the second to last pick up was rescheduled due to bad weather (ice). the week after the last pick-up we had a combo of snow and ice and a lot of both and 2 hoop houses came down (but they were put back together within 2 days). So I would say we ended the winter farm share program just in time.
We did the winter program to see if we still had affection for the CSA style of marketing produce and I found I still loved it. So the decision was made to drop the Tuesday farmers market that we had help to found and had been doing for the past 13 years and revive the Boulder Belt farm Share Program in earnest. So I put together a Farm Share Page on the Boulder Belt Website in December so people interested in our FSP could go there for more information. Than I did not do much about the 2009 season for a while. I had the winter program to deal with, the holidays, etc.. In January I revived the Boulder Belt CSA page on Local Harvest because they sent me an email saying they had cut the commission 50%. And since some people like to use a credit card for such purchases this site allows us to go that route without getting our own credit card account (which we do not want to do for a variety of reasons). Than last week I decided why not put up an ad on Craig's List. So I did and saw a huge jump in hits to the Boulder Belt website and specifically the Farm Share Program page all coming from that add (I also get a lot of CSA hits from the Cincinnati Locavore blog). But while there seemed to be interest in this farm share idea I was not getting many bites. I did get 2 or 3 people to say they were seriously considering our farm share program and one person who committed early after sending out an email to my list in early January.
So after a few weeks of not doing much marketing on behaft of the FSP and not getting any people signing up I got nervous and started doubting my instincts. Maybe the cost is too high, maybe people are turned off by the on farm pick-up. Maybe I should change everything or maybe I should just drop the idea and figure out something else for the upcoming season to make up for the weekday farmers market we dropped. Maybe it is the economy and everyone is out of money so no one can join (okay that did not last long as I feel that what we do will not be all that effected by the economy crumbling-folks gotta eat, after all).
I mean after all, I had one member and a couple of maybes and only 8 weeks until the season starts. So I decided perhaps before I change everything or simply ditch the whole idea perhaps I should send out another email to my list. You know do some marketing, let people know what we are up to. So yesterday afternoon I composed an email about our FSP and sent it out to several hundred people. This morning I had my first hit and by noon had 6 people firmly commited to joining up. Perhaps by Friday the FSP will be 50% full at least through may. Since we have a monthly option later months will fill later on in the season.
So if you are planning on joining our FSP or another farm's program you need to get on the ball now and sign up as things are filling up quickly