[Market-farming] CSA Share Structure

Fellenz fellenz at fltg.net
Tue Dec 25 11:10:27 EST 2007

What I do is to have a choice table.  The choice table is set up like a 
market table with more of what is already in the shares plus lots of 
different fruits and vegetables.  Each week my members pick up their 
pre-packed basic share and go to the share table to pick up items to 
supplement the base share.  As an example if small shares are getting 8 
things one week, they may have five items in their basic share and the 
opportunity to choose three additional items off of the choice table.  
The choice table seems to work fairly well both as a way for members to 
get more of a particular item or to choose something unique.  It also 
works well for me for items which produce over a fairly long season, 
like eggplant, which people would not want to see in their shares every 

Watching how people approach the choice table can be fun also.  Some 
people have a real dollars and cents mindset and consistently choose 
items which cost the most in the store, like raspberries, while others 
go for size - choosing a watermelon rather than something smaller, while 
others, especially people who have been members for a few years seem to 
just look and choose based on what looks good to them for that week.  
Having a choice table also prompts conversation as people look at what 
is available and, especially for the unfamiliar items, discuss how to 
prepare them and what they taste like. 

In stocking the choice table, my goal is to bring home at least one of 
everything on the table because then I will know that everyone got their 
first choices.  Practically speaking, I stock the table with 10-20% more 
than people will take with them.  I have also learned that the fruit 
will go first, followed quickly by potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, beans, 
peas and the other US standards.  My members like the idea of having 
access to many different vegetables, but when offered a choice usually 
default to the tried and true. 

I also have a herb table with fresh cut herbs.  My members can take what 
they want from the herb table each week as a bonus to their shares.


David Booth wrote:
> I am sorry if the subject line is a little vague.  What we are hoping 
> to do for our CSA shareholders next season is to structure the shares 
> so that instead of us dictating one head lettuce, three beets, two 
> turnips, etc.  shareholders might choose a specific number of units. 
> depending on their share size.  Thus they might choose two units of 
> lettuce, one unit of beets, and no turnips for example.  Or all beets 
> if they want to make pickled beets.  From a shareholders perspective, 
> I think this could significantly increase satisfaction.  I can also 
> imagine the challenges on our end.  I am wondering if any of you use a 
> similar system and what you have found to be the greatest benefits and 
> challenges.  Would you recommend it?  Thank you and happy happy 
> holidays to all.
> David Booth & Norma Hernandez
> Arcadia Brook Farm
> North Ferrisburg, Vermont
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