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Old October 20, 2015   #1
Raiquee
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Default CSA- who does it?

Ever since I started growing more of our own food I've tossed around the idea of doing a SMALL CSA. I don't want a million people, but maybe a bi-weekly veggie and possibly egg gig. I'm not looking to get rich, but if it pays for any seed I need the following year I will be pleased.

I can easily get 10 people signed between family and coworkers.

How much space would I need would you gather? I currently have a 50x50 garden and would look at something similar in size for CSA. What is your pricing per share? I'm anticipating at least a paper grocery bag choked full. Minus big items obviously.

If you do CSA's what are your mostly raved about product? Your least? What are your pros and cons? What advice would you give me?

Thanks!

Ps- this isn't a next year thing. Thinking of maybe 2-3 years down the road.
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Old October 20, 2015   #2
Carriehelene
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Ok, I'll bite. What's a CSA?
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Old October 20, 2015   #3
Worth1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carriehelene View Post
Ok, I'll bite. What's a CSA?
I had to look it up it is Community Supported Agriculture.
The only thing I could think of was Confederate States of America.
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Old October 20, 2015   #4
Carriehelene
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That's your southern showing Worth
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Old October 20, 2015   #5
Salsacharley
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I think your space might be tight to do a grocery bag per week for 10 members week in and week out for a season.

Last edited by Salsacharley; October 20, 2015 at 08:55 PM.
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Old October 20, 2015   #6
clkeiper
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I don't do one, but I think you will be surprised at how much/many plants you need to grow to fill the need. I do farmers markets and I grow mixed vegetables and small fruit on about an acre and another acre dedicated to sweet corn. I don't think you will need 300 tomatoes or 100 peppers, but staggering your tomatoes at different times gives you a window of really nice tomatoes to work with for the Summer instead of getting to the end of August and you are getting small or cracked tomatoes.

A packet of seeds (such as off the rack like burpees) is a 50' row approximately.

most CSA's are 4x a month.. not bi-weekly.
picking packing and delivery takes time if you are doing those for your market.
you also need containers and if you do 2x weekly you need 2x as many containers. bags are handy, but not terribly realistic. Too flimsy and you really can't pack them full without smashing the stuff at the bottom.
people like fruit... it is time intensive or space is too limited for the crop... such as cantaloupe or watermelon
You need to plant every week or two for some crops... such as greenbeans so you have them for the Summer, we plant corn once a week for about 6 weeks, several crops of zucchini to get through the Summer, etc. I have learned to keep planting all the way through to at least mid-August and even later for crops like lettuce.
But the best sellers for my markets are

peas
tomatoes
corn
peppers
fruit of anykind
cantaloupe
zucchini
lettuce
greenbeans
new potatoes
not so demanded:
beets, chard,eggplant, cabbage, broccoli, kale, but they do sell, just not as quickly.

but every market I do has different demand of the items. I have one market that I couldn't begin to have enough raspberries for the day and another that just doesn't seem to think they are anything special.
Don't offer things they have no use for.... Huge fruit of any kind is not generally well received or even used because it is too much for most people to use up in a meal or two. plant "personal" sized vegetables.
Too many eggplant will not make them happy...
arugala... spitter for me, but there are people who like it... will your customers want it? not every week I am sure.
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Old October 20, 2015   #7
joseph
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I did CSA for a while. I hated being in debt!!!! I much prefer the farmer's market, because I can pick what is ready to be picked. I don't have to feel bad if all I have this week is lettuce. I don't have to feel bad about crop failures. If it's raining on harvest day, I can take a rain-day break which I could never do with a CSA. I hated all the wasted food with a CSA... At the farmer's market I never see the food that gets wasted. I often saw wasted food while making CSA deliveries. I like the social interaction of a farmer's market better than that of a CSA.

I estimate that it would take a 36' X 36' plot per CSA share.

People liked the plain old ordinary things that are sold in the grocery store. They didn't like new colors, or flavors, or textures... Green zucchini, yellow onions, bell peppers, red slicing tomatoes, etc...
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Old October 21, 2015   #8
Raiquee
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Thanks for the feedback guys. I don't want to/can't do market. Work full time job and so does husband off our mini farm.

What I might do is expand the current garden and make "grab bags" of produce for a set amount. Post it on facebook. I know people would love that. I get bothered more than I like to admit about can they buy stuff from me. I don't want to be home selling a butternut here, a bag of toms there. This was I can sell a bag, see more then $3 at a time and be at peace with it. Then I don't have the commitment of a CSA and I also don't take payment in advance.

Just looking to get my feet a little wet.

I was unaware of the space needed to dedicate for CSA, thank you for that area guide Joseph. I have the area, just don't know how big I want to go. I do have a seperate area where I run asparagus, strawberries, other berries, and have fruit trees.
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Old October 21, 2015   #9
Worth1
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You could try the honor system stand where you put stuff out and people buy it without you being there.
Some places this works and others it doesn't.
Contrary to popular belief the world isn't crawling with bad people.
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Old October 21, 2015   #10
joseph
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I think that the grab-bag idea could work well. Then the farmer isn't saddled with obligation or debt, and the buyer doesn't have to figure out what to do with "Another Basket of Vegetables? When I haven't even finished the last one?"
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Old October 21, 2015   #11
Raiquee
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Worth- I have also thought of that and will probably give that a go next year. We live on a 55 mph road, but have good areas for people to pull over so it's worth a shot!

I think I will try the grab bags. If it works its way up to a CSA then so be it. I don't think with as little CSA members as I want, that I would ever have them pre-pay. Just pay as you go and if they don't want it- more for me.

I had a great cantaloupe this year that would be perfect for CSA. Minnesota Midget. Got like 53 of them things on 3 plants and they were personal size. I was giving them away to anyone I saw.
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Old October 21, 2015   #12
Raiquee
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And of course- the whole reason I'm even thinking about any of this while holding a fulltime job off the mini farm is so I have more reason to grow things.
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Old October 21, 2015   #13
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I do the honor system for a large amount of my roadside stand, but I do go out regularly to "help" some of my customers. For the most part I have had pretty honest customers. One time this year I had my whole jar... jar and money, snagged by a thief. It wasn't a lot, but it was the principle. So I put out a large flower vase and left a note on it "Please feel free to make change...Please don't TAKE the change." Most of my customers were disgusted that someone would take the money jar.
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Old October 24, 2015   #14
ilex
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I do a few CSA, not fulltime.

Start small and slowly. There's a learning curve.

Set some rules for you and your customers.

Choose those customers that adapt to your system and products. Many will look for another store, I would avoid becoming one. You want to plant what you need for CSA, not grow something and then think how to sell it.
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Old October 24, 2015   #15
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Be careful with delivery, it can add a lot of time. Either get paid for it, or only do those that are worth it. Be specially careful with delivery to homes.

Consider having another farmer to cover you. It's difficult to have a diverse box every week. I'm even outsourcing some products that take too much time to grow.
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