market-farming Next Season's CSA share prices

Dori Green dorigreen00 at hotmail.com
Thu Nov 16 09:58:43 EST 2000


I decide in January how many shares I can handle -- it depends on if my 
equipment is in good working order and if I have committed help I feel I can 
rely on to stick it out through the season, as well as on how much 
disposable cash I have to play with for seed and transplant orders.

I then spend the next few months selling shares as $100 debit cards, with 
individual item prices guaranteed to "meet or defeat" supermarket prices for 
the same things grown by conventional methods (I'm organic-not-certified).

If a family wants a $20 weekly basket for 20 weeks, they are strongly 
encouraged to buy four $100 debit cards rather than just to buy one and take 
it for granted that three more will be available in June or July -- I 
strongly intend to be sold out by the end of March even if it's with signed 
contracts to buy the remaining shares on time payments over the course of 
the season.

Our debit cards can be specialized or general-purpose, to be used for 
anything the farm produces -- vegetables, fruit, nuts, culinary herbs, 
medicinal herbs, flowers, natural craft supplies and finished craft items, 
firewood, workshops, and memberships in our goat and chicken and 
horse-and-pony co-ops.

Now that places like K-mart are selling debit cards, it's a concept that 
people understand.  This was not true ten years ago when we started.  And 
while it's a challenge to grow organically at supermarket prices it's 
completely do-able since I'm eliminating all of the middle-people and making 
that direct farmer-consumer connection.  Which is actually my real agenda 
anyway, what a concept!

This year I'm also (finally) converting the farm officially to 
not-for-profit status as an educational organization and opening a couple of 
acres strictly for the local Food Bank (volunteers will provide all of the 
labor -- hey, it's an experiment).  We're also adding horse and pony rescue 
through the non-confrontational means of outbidding meat dealers at New 
Holland or Unadilla auctions.  Even if they're lame they can provide compost 
material, and even a lame horse can teach kids about care and love.  Of 
course, we're going to try to pick out healthy animals -- but we recognize 
we might get burned.  We're ready.

We're also developing as an intentional community with the addition next 
month of a family from Kansas (we're in Upstate NY).  There will be room for 
one or two more people in the main house after they've settled in, and this 
summer's projects are going to include construction of summer apprentice and 
visitor cabins.  And I'm farm-hunting in central New Jersey for a place to 
rent or buy so we have closer connections with Jersey and NYC population 
centers.

It's also become very clear to me that anybody involved in sustainable 
living concepts is closely connected to the international space program, and 
my farm is investigating and developing that connection.  (Research that 
comes from the program has enhanced our lives, and there's a question of 
"why are we trying to be sustainable anyway -- maybe we have a destiny to 
fulfill").  Our five-year plan now includes purchase of a house and land 
near Titusville, Florida (Kennedy Space Center and Spaceport USA) so that 
members can snow-bunny and visit for launch parties.

And to think this all grew from a herb hobby that got completely out of 
hand.

Dori Green
Ash Grove Community Farm & Center for Sustainable Living
Corning, NY (with branches sprouting all over the place)

http://www.ic.org/agrove/index.htm

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