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CSA/ Farm sharing anyone??

Discussion in 'Frugal Living - Making and Saving Money' started by milkmansdaughter, Aug 2, 2017.

  1. Aug 2, 2017
    milkmansdaughter

    milkmansdaughter Almost Self-Reliant

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    Hi All, Upon recommendation, I just starting to look into CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) / Farm sharing. Does anyone here have any experience with CSA? ANY input + or - would be appreciated! Here's a link for more information: www.localharvest.org/CSA/
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2017
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  2. Aug 2, 2017
    Mini Horses

    Mini Horses Super Self-Sufficient

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    A few years back I looked into such "farm income". There are several CSA issues to consider. If you are looking for actual families to sign-up for you to provide or if a local farmers market is you aim -- the market being somewhat more easily achieved & serviced to begin, IMO.

    Finding families to participate & your need tp PROVIDE is a challenge. Several markets in my area -- within a decent drive of 1 hr, and they allow you to bring fresh grown that is available. This option lets you produce and sell without the pressures of crop failures as you have no "preset, paid for" to service. In researching what was required to participate in the markets I found that some have VERY stringent requirements to participate. Some required you be there EACH day the market was open, be set up at a PRECISE time, beginning date X to X. Since I was not already doing farming "full-time", it was not possible to provide product say April thru Nov, every Saturday @ 8-1.
    There was the thought that I may find a partner to share a space and between 2 farms may be able to share space/time/costs of the site. Some markets were more "just show up" and had far, far less participation from vendors and buyers.

    You need to check into your insurance coverage! Both markets and on-site farm have coverage needs for your product & other liabilities. The old days of "joe, sell me a bushel of those green beans" is not what it used to be!! I suppose you have checked into your "cottage industry laws" for your area to sell from farm? Some are weird like they can pick up but, you can't deliver; roadside stand ok, in your home isn't, etc.

    I remember that a fresh veg truck used to come thru a neighborhood with farm produce each week or so -- like the old ice cream trucks. :) Maybe a local business in a well populated housing location would rent you a space each Sat or whatever, to set up a small stand??

    You don't say what you are thinking of, your own experience, what area & equipment you have, the anticipated sales area available, your product expected & these all make a difference for you.
     
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  3. Aug 2, 2017
    milkmansdaughter

    milkmansdaughter Almost Self-Reliant

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    Thank you Mini! Up until yesterday, I never heard of a CSA, though I'm quite familiar with farmer's markets. I just recently moved from Wisconsin to Alabama (not for the first time), and we're just starting to look at future options. We've only had this property since October (but our son and I just got here in late June).
    What we have: 2 plus acres plus another acre of land we can use, 2 black walnut trees, multiple pecan trees, 2 Asian pear trees, an old neglected apple tree, 3 newly planted lime trees (various kinds), a newly planted peach tree, and an olive tree. We have several wildly overgrown but flourishing grape vines (mostly native scupernongs and muscadine) and a fig tree, a 2 1/2 stall shop, and a gardening shed. We have lots of ideas, a desire to learn, and a lifelong habit of working hard. We also have many old flowers, flowering bushes, honeysuckle, and hummingbirds. I have a farming/dairy/4-H/ small animals background, and my husband is an ideas guy. He's great at researching, and DIY projects. He's a Jack-off-all-trades with a tendency to make friends with people from all walks of life (which, btw, is how we ended up with chickens so soon). We have a tendency to jump into a project and learn as we go.
    We've added 16 (various) blueberry bushes, 6 blackberry, and 15 chickens, a large garden, a worm farm, an herb bed, and a compost pile (plus the new trees), and many saws, and tools for woodworking and building.
    Future plans are strawberries, bees, rabbits, and possibly a tilapia tank, a green house, worms and crickets (so far), and another (big) dog or two.
    This year's projects have been to get the chickens and blueberries started, compost pile, pruning and rehabbing old fruit and nut trees, and identifying what's already growing here. The second big project is adding many more plants and flowers for pollinators, (and for pest control!) and possibly some alfalfa or other plants to supplement food for chickens, rabbits, bees, etc.
    We've bounced all over the country. This is where we are hoping to finally sink our roots (literally and figuratively). My husband can hopefully retire early in about 2 years, and we're hoping to have this place starting to earn it's own keep by then.
    As far as I can tell, the closest CSA to where we live is almost 80 miles away, but it's definitely someplace we can research and visit. That might mean we have either a handicap or a big opportunity here. Right now I'm in the research stage.
    Thank you, sincerely, for your detailed answer. It will give us avenues to research and questions to ask.
     
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  4. Aug 3, 2017
    moxies_chickennuggets

    moxies_chickennuggets Almost Self-Reliant

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  5. Feb 7, 2018
    Calista

    Calista Lovin' The Homestead

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    Just wanted to weigh in from a CSA customer's point of view: maybe it was just our bad luck, but the CSA we signed up for was extremely rigid in not allowing substitutions (within reason) for items provided that were not wanted or caused allergies for the purchaser. They were really unpleasant about it (probably from bad experiences in the past), and we ended up paying for freaking KALE in nearly every week's box during the harvest, and both of us LOATHE kale. They could have substituted lettuce or any other green veggie, and we'd have been fine with that.

    So that was the end of our CSA experience and now we either grow our own or hit the farmer's market.
     
  6. Feb 8, 2018
    Mini Horses

    Mini Horses Super Self-Sufficient

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    Interesting, Calista. Did they have a reason for their stance? I would have given you more of something else but, I can see that it would possibly create a discord with other members if they also wanted specialized boxes.

    Most CSA work with a set amount of $$ for which you get a set amount of product, generally produce, at certain times. I would think that things would be different with each CSA, as each farm would be different.

    How much & often did you get produce? Were there specified types being grown? Some offer a couple layers of buy, so you might get larger OR you might buy into another product -- fresh eggs, or fruit, for example. I suspect that some of the variances are from farmer experience, time in business, product available and such other things...... Just curious, not asking cost, only an idea of what was offered by this producer. :) You are the first person I have ever heard say they were a member of a CSA, so interested in how it worked for you. OK, obviously you stopped due to Kale :D but, otherwise, would you have continued? Personally, I would go to a market if a good one there...you buy, you choose.
     
  7. Feb 8, 2018
    Calista

    Calista Lovin' The Homestead

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    You're right -- their position was that, if we make an exception for you, then we'd have to do it for everybody. (Hello, not everybody is going to ask for an exception!)

    My opinion now is that the CSA providers could save themselves a lot of grief by just saying NO SUBSTITUTIONS before they take the customer's money. Then the customer could ask well, hey, what KIND of produce will my weekly box have? After all, the CSA providers know what they're going to be offering ahead of time. They did not provide that information to us. It was a crapshoot.

    Except for the detested kale, most of the produce provided was tasty and introduced us to some new veggies we hadn't tried: fava beans, kohlrabi, daikon radish, etc. However, I could have cruised my local farmer's market and ASKED the vendors about unusual veggies myself, to try them out, and definitely would have paid less.

    We spent about $350 for a full summer share (18 - 20 apple-sized boxes, I forget the exact number), which is actually pretty spendy. At that time, we were in a housing situation where we couldn't garden and there were no nearby farmers markets. NOW we have our own garden and two farmers markets in the area so no, I wouldn't go the CSA route again.

    My best advice for offering CSA shares to the public (and most of your customers probably don't grow their own produce) is to COMMUNICATE before you sign them up. And plan for and allow substitutions, within reason.
     
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  8. Feb 9, 2018
    Mini Horses

    Mini Horses Super Self-Sufficient

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    :) Thanks for your input!

    Did you get the "usual" -- squash, green beans, tomatoes, and such? Shame you don't like kale as I'm sure you know it is quite healthy for you. But, so is fish & I don't eat that! :rolleyes: I would think this person was fairly new at this because most that I've heard do explain the "basic plants" they intend to grow & send seasonally, before you sign up. One I saw (in a magazine) set up a couple long tables with veggies in share sized packages....then let the members walk thru & get "one of" what was available up to a certain # of pkgs. I thought that was nice as you could skip one & opt for another, given there were like 10 choices for 8 packages per box, as an example.

    I still like the idea of a truck going into neighborhoods on a given schedule, laden with fresh garden produce. A few flyers and a steady time/day/site, they will sell.
     
  9. Feb 9, 2018
    Calista

    Calista Lovin' The Homestead

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    Oh, yes, lots of the "usual" and generous portions of each, so no complaints there. (Well, except for the hated kale, sneakily painted in yellow-green, white, red, or purple to try to confuse us -- ha, nice try.)

    Yes, I wish I'd quizzed them before I signed us up as to their experience and expectations of their customers so I wouldn't have been left with a bad taste in my mouth (them AND the kale).

    We'll eat just about any greens or lettuce variety out there and like it but NOT KALE. Could be we were poisoned by well-meaning friends who cooked it until it was bitter and tough, who knows.

    And as to fish? Hey, come visit out here and we'll serve you up some mouth-watering baked wild Pacific salmon that will change your mind, if you can just get past the glow-in-the-dark factor from them swimming in the vicinity of Fukushima. :rolleyes: (Kidding...)
     
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  10. Feb 9, 2018
    Hinotori

    Hinotori Super Self-Sufficient

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    Smoke that salmon! That's the food of the gods! I dont care for most white fish, give me a nice oily one any day. Salmon, trout, sturgeon, kokanee. Catfish, bass, ling cod, and halibut are eh ok. Most others I cant stand. I'll go hungry rather than eat tilapia. Can't stand the taste. If your luck catching sucks, we've bought salmon directly from the Indians down at the Puyallup river. Can't get fresher bought that just hauled in.


    I looked into a CSA here. I didn't feel it was worth the cost for us. The food list and price didn't match that well with just going to the farmers market and getting what we wanted for the week. Yes kale seems to be a heavy feature around this area. Which actually isn't good because you shouldn't eat it every day. Can cause thyroid issues and if I remember correctly that is because it prevents proper absorption of iodine. Cooking however does help with that. So like anything, some is good and too much is too much.

    There are 4 farmers markets within a reasonable distance from us or where we do our once a month shopping. We hit the Yelm one at least twice a month when it's running since it's by the meat market. It's the smallest of them but I've found I like the produce from certain farms better. Probably it's how they handle it.

    We go to the farm down in the valley to buy berries. It's not very far and they have a stand on this side of town at one of their fields as well.
     
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