[Market-farming] CSA start-up

Wiediger, Alison alison.wiediger at hart.kyschools.us
Mon Nov 26 13:13:05 EST 2007

Hello Bill,

For us, the decision is mostly one of keeping it simple.  To do a good
job at CSA, you have to grow a wide variety of desirable vegetables -
what your customers want.  In our neck of the woods, that would include
a lot of items that are space hogs - sweet corn, melons, potatoes, etc -
and we have a limited amount of space, or labor hogs - green beans come
to mind - and we have no labor.  We are also in an area that would be a
pretty hard sell for CSA. The successful CSA operations in our area
actually go to Nashville (1.5 hours from us) for their CSA members. So,
we prefer to specialize in crops that are high value for the space they
consume and the labor they require.  We take those to the Farmers'
Market and usually sell out. If we have a drought (like this year) and
have reduced harvests, we don't have to feel guilty about smaller
baskets.  We also just really like the selling at the market.  If a
customer is purchasing tomatoes, we know they wanted them - not that the
tomatoes just happened to be in their basket this week.  

We also like the idea of customer choice.  We have customers that buy 2
pounds of mesclun every week and never lettuce, and customers that buy
3-6 heads of lettuce and never mesclun.  

This model works for us.  Every grower makes different decisions
depending on market, land and personalities.

-----Original Message-----
From: market-farming-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:market-farming-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Bill
Sent: Monday, November 26, 2007 11:16 AM
To: Market Farming
Subject: Re: [Market-farming] CSA start-up

I've found this thread interesting. It sounds like some believe the CSA 
model is more demanding on the grower than the roadside stand or farmers

market model. In my area, long-established growers almost exclusively 
operate their own stands. There are some newer growers who use the CSA
or attend farmer's markets. I'd like to hear feedback on why you would
the CSA model rather than farmer's markets or roadside stands. Thanks
any responses.

Bill Shoemaker, Sr Research Specialist, Food Crops
University of Illinois - St Charles Horticulture Research Center

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