Wednesday, April 4, 2012

So what is a CSA??

It's already Easter, which means a quiet week on the farm. It's a great time to catch up on paperwork and maybe grab a nap!

As you have seen from some of the intern's posts we have been busy. Lambing season is done now, and in addition to our four lambs, we have inherited three bottle lambs from The Hayward Farm in Gray. The Haywards have been great partners with us as we continue to develop our sheep flock. The three 'new kids' (yes, 'kids' are technically goats) come to us orphaned which means round the clock bottle feeding, and I have been pleased to see the students and staff rally to get the job done. Of course pulling in outside help meant that we had to give them names and I even saw two collars with name tags attached (don't get too attached people).

With the lambing process behind us, the lion's share of the work for the next month is gathering summer interns, prepping fields, planting and getting our inaugural CSA program off the ground.

Our last poll question dealt with CSA's and I was surprised to see a few folks didn't know what a CSA is. So here is the skinny:

C.S.A. - not the Confederate States of America, but rather Community Supported Agriculture is a business model that immerses the consumer in the business, and joy, of farming. In the CSA model the consumer pays, up front, for a season's worth of vegetables, eggs, meat, or whatever the farmer is selling. For example - $450.00 up front guarantees you a box of freshly picked veg every week for 20 weeks. When you break it down, it's only $22.50 a week for fresh veg, which we could all use more of.

Out of the gate it's a great idea, but there is an inherent danger in that a CSA is a bit like playing the stock market. In good years you will likely see a better selection of veg, or the farmer might feel super generous and over fill your box. However, if it is a tough year, or there are unforeseen environmental hazards (tornadoes come to mind this morning), then your box might be a little more lean than you expected. Most farmers will do their best to give you the best value for your dollar, but sometimes things are out of even their hands.

CSA's come in a variety of different flavors. One model offers pre-filled boxes of veg each week, while a second model allows you to "shop" for veggies at market value at your convenience throughout the season. It isn't hard for most folks (even in Manhattan) to find a CSA that fits their needs. But don't wait long. CSA's often fill up fast, and once a customer base is established, those consumers often remain loyal for years, keeping the farmer busy, and the openings few and far between.

At Pearson's Town we are offering the pre-stuffed boxes each week. We plan to also have an "extras" box that will be filled with a variety of veg to swap out. So, if you find cauliflower in your weekly pick up and you don't much care for the tasteless white flower head (I'm not making any personal statements here. . . veggies have feelings too), then you can swap out your cauliflower for, say, carrots, or whatever may happen to be in the 'extras' box that week. Whatever is left in the 'extras' box will be taken down to Catherine's Cupboard Food Pantry for distribution. Our hope is to minimize waste and create a system that will allow us to serve the under-served while also feeding our customers!

Clear as mud?!?

Sometimes these things are easier to do than explain. Speaking of mud, there is a field to be played in, so I must go. Just for fun, if you are already a member of a CSA, leave a comment and let us know the name of the farm. It will be a fun means of giving some free add time to those hard working blokes that grow our food!

Grow Happy!!

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