2011 CSA Shares Available!

The eventual plan for Hole in the Woods is for 50% of our produce to be available via Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares.  We aren’t really ready to jump into that with both feet, but we need some enterprising families to begin the journey with us.

For those new to the concept of a CSA, it is a unique distribution method for agricultural products (usually food) that has been growing in popularity over the last 20 years or so.  Basically it works like this: a farmer offers a certain number of “shares” of the produce of a farm.  A member of the CSA purchases his share in advance, much like a subscription. 

A typical share consists of a container (box, basket, bag, etc.) of produce each week throughout the growing season.  In our case, we plan to offer a share sized to provide all of the fresh produce a family of 4 would need for the week. The variety of produce will vary throughout the season, from snap peas and salad greens in the spring, to new potatoes, garlic, zucchini, and cucumbers in early summer, through heirloom tomatoes, gourmet fingerling potatoes, peppers, and melons in summer/fall (and, at least a couple of pumpkins per share!), and ending with some hardy greens, can-able quantities of tomatoes, rutabagas, parsnips, etc. to prepare for winter.

A CSA provides multiple advantages for both the farm and the member.  For the farm, it is much easier to plan how much produce to, well, produce, when it is sold up front, and the marketing time selling that produce is done before the 16-hour days of the growing season begin. Not insignificantly, since the members purchase their share in advance, the income comes in when the money is being spent – a great cash-flow advantage!  This also means that the members share in the risk – if a late July hailstorm destroys the whole tomato crop, the farmer is out all of his conventionally-sold tomatoes, and the CSA members won’t be canning spaghetti sauce. Meanwhile, an extended cool spring means members get that many more yummy snow peas, and the farmer doesn’t have to compost as much of the bumper crop. But, most importantly, the farmer gets to know who is eating his food well, and over time can tailor produce selections to the members of the CSA.

For the member, the advantages are just as appealing.  They get the freshest available produce, and prime picks, too (most CSA farmers give the best of the best to their CSA members first, sell the “seconds” at the farmers’ market, and eat what’s left themselves). They also get an opportunity to be exposed to new fruits and vegetables they might not otherwise experience. Of course, there is also a cost savings – most CSA members save 20-30% over what they would pay for the same produce at the farmers’ market. Most importantly, they develop a relationship with their “personal farmer,” not only really learning where their food comes from, but influencing decisions about that food, too.

Moving to a CSA model is a big step for Hole in the Woods, even if it has always been our goal.  We realize that we still have a long way to go in soil improvement and the capitol-intensive  tasks of building hoop houses, a green house, and much fencing that it will take before we can do CSA on a large-scale. It’s a big responsibility feeding multiple families! And, much of our future plans involves perennial crops such as asparagus, apples, peaches, and kiwi that will take years to begin to bear. Thus, the risk-share part of the model is a bigger piece of the puzzle starting up. So, we want to start small and slow, and throw in a few sweeteners for the deal.

So, the short version (too late)…  We are offering 3 CSA shares for the 2011 growing season.  Shares will be available for pick-up at the Culver Farmers’ Market, or, if you live en route, we may work out a delivery/hand-off system (a sweetener). They will begin when the market opens and continue every week (except June 18, when we get married…) until the market closes.  Weather permitting, shares will continue after the market closes, with pickup plans yet to be made, until the weather decides to end the year.  It should work out to at least 25 weeks of fresh produce. The price? $350 until 10 January, $400 after.  Yup, act now, and it’s $14/week!  As an additional sweetener, the first 3 members will receive a price no higher in 2012 (we’re projecting $400/450 per share pricing, plus adjustments for inflation). <a href=”/contactus/”>Contact us</a> to arrange for your share and payment via cash, check, or PayPal!

4 Responses to “2011 CSA Shares Available!”

  1. Chad says:

    We have had some interest in a “half share,” sized for a 2-person family. This is something we had always planned for the long run, but initially hadn’t thought about for this trial run. Howver, getting more people involved without actually needing to produce more shares is probably a valuable thing. Thus, if you’re interested in the CSA concept but don’t want/need produce for four, contact us anyway. No guarantees, but if interest is there, we’ll probably go for it this year.

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  3. Chad says:

    I think the second comment was a failed trackback ping… Would love to see who/where it’s from. Leave a comment, perhaps?

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