CSA Vs Farmer's market

Lucy Goodman-Owsley goodows at excite.com
Mon Aug 14 07:56:33 EDT 2000

We do both farmer's markets and a CSA and at this point in life I would say
go with the farmer's markets to make money ESPECIALLY if you are in your
first few years of market growing.

CSA's are a lot of work. Not only do you grow the food but you have to
package it, write a newsletter and often deliver the food to members.
Usually the farm has on farm events that take time to do such as farm tours,
workshops or pot luck meals. While, in theory, the members come to the farm
to help, my reality over the past 3 years is this will not happen in any
meaninful way because eveyone is too busy and since the members are not
professional growers they will slow the farmer way down. This year we had 2
days where members showed up to work.

It is hard to get members as this is a new way of getting food and very very
inconvient compared to either a farmer's market of kroger's. There are not
many folks that want to pay $$ up front wait several months to actually see
the food, are asked to do dirty farm work and get no refunds if the crops

This year we have 16 paid memberships with about 22 members in our CSA. This
accounts for $3200 for the season. This is a small persentage of our total
gross income but the CSA takes 1 whole day a week.

A farmer's market, on the other hand, is a known quantity to most consumers.
Since there are usually other vendors at the market (Though at one of our
markets we are the lone produce vendors and until last week the only
sellers-you could say it is on the small side) running out of an item is not
a big problrm as other vendors can take upo the slack usually. This is
important because as an indy operator if you run short of product you will
soon run short of customers. We make a lot more money from the markets than
the CSA and would have to have about 100+ members to come close to making
the money made at FM's

Personally, I would go with the market and wait a few years on the CSA. You
may want to use that time to see if there is even any interest in CSA in
your area. CSA is a nice theory on paper but the realities are very

Lucy Goodman-Owsley
Boulder Belt CSA
New Paris, OH
Website: http://www.angelfire.com/oh2/boulderbeltcsa
Organic Farming and Gardening Forum:
Want Social Change? Join a CSA!

Say Bye to Slow Internet!

More information about the Market-farming mailing list