[Market-farming] how much to plant

David Inglis mhcsa at verizon.net
Thu Dec 13 10:24:51 EST 2007

The following site has planning software you might useful. It is designed
for CSA's and has a starting amount per share that you can modify with your
own experience from your own group.
Not only is each farm different but so also is each CSA group. At the risk
of stating the obvious, you will not be able to grow the exact amount you
need, only too little or too much. Planning to grow slightly 'too much'
gives a sense of freedom and security. Give the rest away or plow it in.

My answer to your question:
"How do you decide on quanity for CSA'S?"
would be that to a large extent [with a few exceptions] I let the members
choices decide. This is made easy for us because everyone comes to our place
and we have a free choice distribution system. Even if you have a box or
allocated system you need some kind of feedback loop from the members so you
are providing them with something close to what they want/need. The free
choice system, with a volume limit, is a weekly survey of what is needed.
When we first started  this form of distribution we took careful note of
what we ran out of first and adjusted the 'row feet grown' for the next
season. You can not guess. For instance we found when we switched from boxed
to free choice that we needed three times the amount of beets in spite of
the constant surveys we had done before that indicated only half the members
really wanted beets; apparently the other half wanted lots, now they get
them. We have found that in the aggregate the group as a whole has very
predictable needs that we grow for. We still have to deal with the issue of
the total volume we should offer each week.
To start out you should focus on limiting [but only to what the members want
+10% wiggle room] the things that are expensive for you to grow. If you
don't harvest the inexpensive things you end up not needing it wont cost you
much and the insurance feels good. It can feel wasteful but compared to the
conventional food chain it is not.
Good luck.
Dave Inglis
Mahaiwe Harvest CSA

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