Community supported agriculture (fwd)

Lawrence F. London, Jr. london at
Wed Nov 22 23:59:04 EST 1995

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 22 Nov 1995 11:48:42 -0500
From: Sarah Milstein <milstein at>
To: sanet-mg at
Subject: Re: Community supported agriculture

Hi, Virginia. 
I was glad to see your post because there's not a lot of practical exchange
on CSA in this group, and that's my main area of interest. 
I'm on the core group of Roxbury Biodynamic Farm, a farm about three hours
north of NYC that delivers to Manhattan and Albany, and has on-site shares
as well.  With weekly deliveries of over 450 shares, and a budget supported
almost entirely by these shares, Roxbury is one of the largest and most
successful CSA's around.  We are not, however, without problems, and member
participation is one of our greatest challenges:  how do we get people
involved so they are doing more than simply subscribing to beautiful (and
cheap!) veggies? 
For the 1996 season, we are going to try to address this issue by requiring
that members work a minimum of three hours at their distribution site or at
the farm (their choice) during the delivery season.  This will be part of
the membership agreement that they sign, and a volunteer coordinator will
keep track of what everyone has done.  Members who do not keep this part of
their agreement may be ineligible for reenrollment next year (we have the
luxury of denying people reenrollment because we have a waiting list the
size of Webster's Third Unabridged Dictionary).  In New York City, where
the farm delivers more than 220 shares, we'll have over 660 hours of work
time to allot to our needs.  As the site-coordinator, I have determined
that at most, I'll need 330 hours of volunteering from the membership over
the course of our 33 delivery days (volunteering at the site = unloading
the truck, checking people in, consolidating the crates, cleaning up, etc).
 That will leave us with 330 hours of time for the farm, and the farmer
will predetermine which jobs can best make use of the volunteers' skills
(weeding carrots and harvesting strawberries are high on the list).  Other
farms have other arrangements, and one farm I know of that delivers to
Rochester, NY requires that its members put in 16 hours of labor at the
farm each year (the farm is about 50 miles outside Rochester). 
In NYC, we also hold two potlucks a year, with a meeting beforehand to
involve the community in a discussion of the farm:  how was the share price
determined?  are there any changes for next year?  etc.  In Albany, and
among the group that gets their veggies at the farm, there are monthly
potlucks to encourage a sense of community, but no specific meetings are
Part of the success of Roxbury is undoubtedly attributable to a strong core
group that helps keep the farmer (who is an excellent grower) from burning
out.  But the members need to support the core group and keep *us* from
burning out, so we're looking for ways to help them do that.  On a related
note, I am in the process of organizing farm visits for core group members
from a few farms in the Catskill/Berkshire area so that we can get together
and exchange ideas, see each other's farms, etc.  I'm hoping to have three
or four farm tours and gatherings scheduled for the 1996 season, and
perhaps your farm and/or core group could be included.  Which farm do you
work with, and where are you located? 
Finally, are you aware of the CSA conference in January held in Kimberton,
PA and sponsored by the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association?  It's
a three-day conference and might be a good resource for you.  I don't have
the B-D Association number on hand, but I'll find it and e-mail it your way
over the weekend. 
I hope this info is helpful.  Please feel free to contact me via e-mail,
snail mail or voice mail anytime.   
Sarah Milstein 
227 W. 20th St, #4C 
New York, NY  10011 
milstein at

Lawrence F. London, Jr. - london at

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