Start a CSA
A CSA is short for Community Supported Agriculture. It is a paid membership group that helps the local economy. A CSA helps small family farms by giving them resources before the growing season begins. An individual pays for yearly share or half share, which consists of a mixture of fresh local organic produce. The csa can be flexible and small when starting out until you get established.
Preparing for starting a CSA
- Visit another CSA and ask questions. You can visit a farmers market and see if there are CSA's or ask some of farmers. There is a lot of information about CSA's both in libraries and online. Look up relevant organizations like Edible NY, Just Food, Grow NYC, City Harvest and others.
- Decide on your goals for the CSA. Some CSA's just provide fresh produce, others have social goals like creating community connections, creating healthy eating, or providing help for those in need of food. CSA's can provide education on environment by pairing up with other groups such as composting, seed libraries, community gardens and schools.
- Think about how many members your CSA should have and where it should be located. Membership can range from 30 to 50 members or more.
- Find a core group of about six individuals. The core group is key in helping a CSA running smoothly. The members of the core group are the decision makers, who deal with finances and problems faced. They coordinate the needs of the CSA, vote, make suggestions, and plan goals. This is usually done in monthly meetings.
- Assign the core group members specific job areas like outreach, finance, education and scholarships, technology, graphic design, note-taking and record-keeping. Keeping track of finances and membership are a key factor of the core group.
- Create a name and logo for your CSA. The logo should stand out and be colorful. Create a banner or sign, cards and flyers. Post the banner outside of the CSA so people can see it and notice your CSA. The logo can be used for your online presence or on social media sites. It's helpful to go to some community events and do tabling with flyers so people become familiar with your CSA.
- Create flyers and other informational material. CSA flyers should have information about fees, what is included in a share, and other rules and regulations. You should include pictures of what a share looks like.
Setting up the CSA
- Secure a location for your CSA. CSA's can be inside or outside, but most are outside. Finding a location for a CSA can take some work and time. You can ask some organizations like churches, businesses, seed libraries, and other educational items relating to environment whether you can use some of their facilities.
- Set up a payment method. You can either set up an account or have members access the farm directly. The payment for shares are prepaid by members. Once paid, members are ready for pick up and on list. Finances should be kept well tracked. You might assign a person for that job.
- Create a schedule. Decide on times of delivery and pick ups. These usually happen on weekends, start at 9:30 am and end at 12 pm. Preliminary setting up takes about 20 minutes. Some assigned workers come to set up tables and get materials ready. You must have a checklist of members picking up food for that day.
- Create an online presence. It is a good idea to be present on social media, like Facebook, Twitter and Google. Include links to related sites. Post pictures of produce and pick ups. Members can share recipes, food quality, and other experiences of CSA. You can assign a specific core member to keep track of online materials and sites.
Drawing attention to the CSA
- Clean up space and unfold tables and materials. Deliver your food in a truck, then lay it out on a table and label each produce item and amount to take. Food should be separated in open baskets or flexible bags. A good idea is to have a swap box for people to change items not wanted. You should set up information table near CSA banner.
- Have assigned workers take places. A sign-in person with list of pick ups should be located in front. Another person should be at the information table. The rest of worker members will help distribute food and greet people.
- Have an information table to provide information about your CSA. You should both have materials and answer questions that visitors may ask. The material can be about issues the CSA supports or about how specifically it is organized, like membership fees. The CSA banner should be located near table . A chosen member gives out this information. People will be socializing at the CSA market.
- The CSA helps build community, people meet others from their area. Unlike a supermarket all produce is fresh unprocessed and not packaged. People get to know the farm, some visit it for events.
- cleaning up area and store materials when you're finished. You need to have garbage bags and brooms. Scraps can be composted. You can contact government agencies or community compost organizations about giving food scraps, or you can create your own compost area for left over scraps.
Improving your community with the CSA
- Give away the surplus to those who need it. After all members have received food, you can assess what surplus is left over. Surplus food could be used to distribute to food shelters or those in need. You need to contact shelters before giving food.
- Provides a rich and diverse resource to both members and the community.
- For example, you could include a compost area to the CSA site to educate and promote composting.
- Create a seed library and link up with seed banks and other seed libraries. All you need is to have some designated space, some literature on seeds and the seeds. This shows the link between food, farms and seeds.
- Set up a community garden on the CSA's site. This will add more community engagement and also create and promote a green space for CSA environment. Volunteers can be coordinated to do garden work.
- Educate. People may want to learn where food comes from. Your CSA can show it to them in its natural state. You can set up a pollination site to show the interactivity of pollinators with food systems and the needs and biodiversity of insects like bees and butterflies.
- Join a CSA before starting one.
- You must have permission for location site.