Central Michigan CSA

  (Clare, Michigan)
Proudly Serving Mid Michigan Familys
[ Member listing ]

Mid Michigan CSA Sign Up Season is in Full Swing

Social media makes it easy to stay connected with other Michigan CSA Farms and I've noticed membership is in full swing. Earlier today I saw a couple local CSA's that were all full and have already closed membership. I manage the Central Michigan CSA and we open our membership the first of January and we are usually able to leave it open well into spring.

Over the past several years I've notice that the CSA season depends on where you live.  There several areas that allow for an all year round CSA program, though most farms seem to break it up into several chunks of time.

Most mid Michigan CSA programs operate much like ours as far as membership signup goes, some close earlier than others though.  It really depends on the farm and the farmer who manages the program.

The Central Michigan CSA serves families throughout the Mid Michigan area and we usually see a large group of members sign up in the month of January then February slows a bit. Then in March, April, May and June we see an increase in membership each month.  Over the past few years I've tracked the returning members and over 40% of returning members sign up early, in the month of January.

I've learned the MSU organic CSA has broken their program up into seasons and are now also offering a year round CSA.  One of our farm goals is to offer a winter CSA program in the future that would include canned foods grown here on our farm.  For now we offer a 18-20 week program and that seems to work well in growing zone.

What are your thoughts on a winter CSA program that would include cold weather crops and canned veggies? 

To learn more about our CSA farm you can visit our listing here on Local Harvest or stop by our farm website and read our Central Michigan CSA page. 



Central Michigan CSA Farm Growing Organic Produce For Mid Michigan Families

The Central Michigan CSA farm offers organic produce to it's CSA members in the Mid Michigan area all season long.  The spring of 2014 will be the first year the CSA farm will offer certified organic produce to those who participate in the popular farm co-op in the Mid Michigan area. 

Interested people can learn all about the farm, the food, and CSA program by visiting the Farm website at: http://www.MichiganFarmFreshProduce.com

 The CSA farm is currently enrolling new members and has several shares available for the upcoming season.  There are about 5 different share options to meet your families needs and there is even a share for those who prepare meals for one. 

Members will start to pick up their weekly shares in late May/early June and the season runs into October.  The typical season lasts between 18-20 weeks based on the last 4 years.

Here are some of the vegetables that are produce on Central Michigan CSA farm every year:

 Tomatoes Cucumbers
 Heirloom Tomatoes Lettuce
 Sweet Onions Sweet Corn

 Egg Plant

 Cabbage Watermelon
 Beets Green Beans
 Pickling Pickles Yellow Summer Squash
 Canning TomatoesZucchini
 Green Bell Peppers Butter Cup Squash
 Misc. Hot Peppers Butter Nut Squash
 Swiss Chard Sweet Dumpling Squash
 Radish Basil
 Potatoes Cilantro
 Kale oregano
 Asparagus Much, Much More....

 One of the practices that makes the Central Michigan CSA unique is that it also offers two Premium Share options that also include most every fruit grown here in Michigan.  The fruit offerings start in the late spring with fresh Michigan Strawberries, they are offered for around 4 weeks.  Blueberries, cherries, apricots, plumbs, raspberries, peaches and apples follow the strawberry harvest.  Besides these fruits, all members will find an assortment of homegrown melons throughout July, August and into September.

If you would like to learn more about the Central Michigan CSA farm and membership program, you can visit the farm website today.  While you're there, you should sign up for the CSA Newsletter and become a fan of their CSA Farm page on Facebook. 





Farm Fresh Eggs Offered Througout Mid Michigan~Non GMO

2014 will mark the first year the Central Michigan CSA farm will offer farm fresh eggs throughout the mid Michigan area.  We will have around 600 layers in production by the spring of 2014 and increase the flock to serve the interest we encounter.

We've decided to continue our farm policy of not supporting any GMO products by feeding the layers a strict NON-GMO feed.  They will be pastured during the warmer months along with being provided with free choice of non GMO layer crumble sourced locally.

We are offering Farm Fresh Egg shares through our Central Michigan CSA program and also will have around 120 dozen eggs available per week to the public. You can find our eggs at our Mid Michigan CSA pick up locations in Midland Mi, Mt. Pleasant Mi, Gladwin Mi, and also at our Clare roadside stand and our roadside stand in Sears Michigan which is at the corner of U.S. 10 and 66, next to Smokey Bones BBQ restaurant.

You will also find the Egg CSA here on local harvest in our online store in the coming weeks. To learn more about our farm fresh egg CSA visit our website today. 

You can learn more about our layers, and how to buy farm fresh eggs from us by reading a recent article I wrote on our Farm website or just send me an email. Here is an article I recently wrote about the Non GMO eggs we are offering in the Mid Michigan Area.




Planning For a Successful Michigan CSA

Thanks to the Internet research into complex topics has been made much easier and as I look into CSA programs I can even get an almost "first hand" account.  I'm planning for 20 plus members in our Mid Michigan CSA program for 2012 and I've learned a ton from successful CSA program acrosss the state.  But I've learned more from the ones that tanked.

Why Do Some CSA's Fail?

After finding 6 CSA programs that were at one time doing well and now have all but ceased to exist I've found a few common themes.  Why did I go about finding CSA farms and programs that failed in order to learn how avoid common pitfalls and get it right?  Well when you look back you'll see your own failures are where you learned the most, at least that is how it works for me.  Besides I've learned to appreciate the value of planning and having a plan for when the "plan" doesn't work out, because it usually doesn't.

Here are some of the common threads to CSA failures that I've come across, if you have more please leave a comment and let us know. Here are the top three reasons CSA's fail based on my research:

  1. Lack of and/or poor communication.
  2. Bad attititude and poor customers service.
  3. Unclear expectations.

Those are the top three reasons that each of the CSA's that bombed had in common.  One farmer repeated insulted members, meaning more than one not over and over, which is really just rude. So if you're starting a CSA or doing anything as a service to the public plan on not insulting them, you'll do better.

I get the unclear expectations thing.  We all want to market the program in a way that people will see the value, but let's face it people who value fresh locally grown food right from the farm don't need promises and a pitch. 

Tip:  Keep it simple and be honest. I've changed some of my language to reflect the realities of farming.  Instead of saying the program will last 24 weeks. I say my goal is for a 24 week program and share reasons why I think that is a realistic expectation.

Be a Good CSA Farmer

The idea that we can plant some food and then see what happens probably isn't going to maintain a successful CSA program in Michigan. Be a good CSA farmer and grow to appreciate the idea that folks are counting on you for their familiy's food. There are lot's of things a farmer can do to further ensure the success of the crops they plant.  I couldn't imagine offering a CSA program without a fail proof irrigation plan in place for instance.  Another simple low cost precaution is to grow with mulch and low pressure drip lines to reduce or prevent fungal blights.  These two practices alone would save most CSA farmers a lot of problems.

Another obvious strategy is to maintain an accurate and honest perspective of the value that one member brings to your farm.  Think about it, from a farmers perspective there is no more cost effective way to offer what you grow, period.  Looking at it from a "lifetime value" perspective puts things in a more logical and service oriented order and it just smart. Even if you don't make a dime through your CSA program that has 10 members if you have ten happy members at the end of the season you have a successful CSA.

The next year you live to fight again and improve the program but if you can't keep your current members satisfied you're essentially starting from scratch, right?  I'd rather have ten happy members telling their friends and family about my farm and not have any profit than having a few thousand dollars and ticked of customers.  You can always raise the cost of the share price, change where or when you plant, use different methods, and so on.  All of which likely cost less than acquiring new members.

We Represent Community Supported Agriculture

CSA farmers have the unique responsibililty and opportuntiy to further the cause of the CSA model.  Each of the members who isn't happy has a voice and that voice can and does hurt CSA farming as a whole, so let's keep that in mind when we offer a CSA program.  If you have members that you struggle to serve keep in mind you can always not offer them a membership the following year which is better for the Industry than telling them off when your upset one afternoon, right?

Simple CSA Insurance

Growing all of your members food on one farm in one area is probably not optimal. Are there other small farms near buy that would allow you to use their land?  Developing a way to sell extra produce lets me grow way more food than my members could use and I feel that is another form of insuring a happy member base. What are some other simple ways you could insure the success of a Mid Michigan CSA?



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