The real value of a CSA .
The Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) method has been around (damn near) as long as farming. Maybe it wasn't called a CSA at the time, but it did exist; Someone paid for their beef at the start of the year, allowing the farmer to raise that animal. Someone purchased their winter carrots in July, allowing the farmer to keep food on his table while finishing the harvest. It wasn't always about weekly 'shares' or harvest boxes.
In reality, the “CSA” had more to do with the support of your local producer. Ages ago, if the local farm didn't survive, neither did the community around it. It was as simple as that. Today things aren't as cut and dry. We have lost that relationship with our food. Food doesn't typically come from our neighbor, but from a Superstore or other large chain. Food has become a matter of convenience, rather than community.
We've offered a CSA for the last two seasons, and will again Summer 2022. It gives us a good head start at the beginning of the year, and ensures our harvests end up in great homes. That being said, it doesn't come without its stressors.
We take our operation quite seriously, and we are typically quite successful with our crops. That being said; having them sold in advance does add a large "What fucking if ?" to the equation. It's nerve wracking to have a customer’s hard earned cash, with the expectation of a return in equal amounts of produce. That's where I believe the line has been blurred, perhaps beyond repair.
Most people have been using the large chain store for so long they have forgotten what value is. Yes, you got a pound of spinach for 6$. Yes, you perhaps get more than you would from us for a similar price.
What did you actually buy?
Preserved, chemical laced, nutrient deficient spinach.
I've read multiple studies and listened to several farmers speak to the knowledge that mass produced, chemical-laden, continent traveling produce can have 1/3rd the nutrients of its locally, organically grown counterpart. Rushed production, petrochemical fertilizers, pesticides and preservatives all lead to a nutrient-deficient final product.
To recap, you paid 6$ for 1/3rd of the nutrients you would have purchased from The Burly Farmer. This means local ,organic produce is actually 3 times the value of what is on the shelf at (most) big box stores. Never would I charge 18$/lb of spinach, but 11$ is completely reasonable. I know what we grow.
So therein itself is a large struggle of operating a CSA model. You will always have someone who doesn't entirely understand what they signed up for. They will probably have something lovely to say about how much of a ripoff you are compared to the almighty Walmart. And to that I often say : Fuck Walmart. I'm not here to beat prices, I'm here to provide nutrient dense, local produce that I know you can serve with confidence.
For me, this is about rekindling our relationship with food, getting a little closer to the ground and maybe regaining something we lost.