Most of us have heard about the concept of providing clients with a box of fresh vegetables from our smallholding once a week.
However there is concept known as Community Supported Agriculture, where the townies actually buy shares in the crop. They pay the grower at the beginning of the growing season, and then receive a portion of the crops as they’re harvested. The produce is supplied over a set number of weeks of the season.
This is in principle a win-win situation. Growers earn important early-season capital and have a guaranteed market for their produce.
Barring a disastrous harvest, consumers enjoy overall lower food costs, field-fresh produce, and greater access to high-demand fruits and vegetables like heirloom tomatoes.
Some smallholdings have spring, summer, fall, and even winter shares. Typically, there is a drop-off site or sites where CSA members pick up their weekly shares, or they come directly to the plot.
As the grower, you get paid early in the season, before you have to spend a lot on seeds and labour, so your cash flow is better. And, CSAs allow you to connect better with your community, really letting you get to know the people who want your food. You can adjust your offerings to their desires and needs and create a more successful, responsive business.
In order to effectively market your CSA, you also need to understand why your potential customers would want to pay up front for an entire season’s worth of produce. These are the advantages that you can use to encourage their buy-in:
- Ultra-fresh, locally grown produce;
- Learn about new vegetables and fruits;
- Serious understanding of the seasons and what grows in your area;
- Relationship with the growers;
- Access to special seasonal deals;
- Invitations to members-only you-picks at the plot;
- Special events at the smallholding;
- Saves money;
- Saves time;
- Specific local eating.