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Author Topic: violating the spirit of CSA??
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  albertnobbs
  New York
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violating the spirit of CSA??    (Posted Thu, Oct 11 '12 at 07:43 UTC)

Hello,
I belong to a CSA, organic farm in NJ. Recently, the farmers running the CSA have begun selling all the best produce to local restaurants. The farm was established, and is classified as a CSA, not half-CSA/half-private farm. I am upset because, as members, we have seen over the past few years that we have had to "share the cost" and "share the burden" yet none of the excess is ever shared back with us. It feels like we are subsidizing these local restaurants. What's more, the restaurants get all the "interesting" crops, whereas the share for us CSA members is the same old potatoes/lettuce/carrots week after week. The quality and quantity has gone down considerably. What do y'all think about this? About using CSA members to generate revenue so that the farmers can sell all the best food to restaurants and make an additional profit.
Thoughts?

 wvhaugen
 Ferndale
Re: violating the spirit of CSA??    (Posted Thu, Oct 11 '12 at 09:38 UTC)

Without knowing how many members, how many farmer hours required to provide those shares, how much a share costs, whether there are other costs to the farmer, such as delivery to dropoff points, and probably a few pieces of data I cannot think of at the moment, it is hard to say. Since over 60% of American farmers make far less than minimum wage and have to support themselves with outside work, it is more likely you are getting a good deal and just don't realize it. Remember, multiple markets are essential. Here is a question for you. Are you paying this farmer $20 an hour for his/her time to provide you with your food?

Catering to the unique Ferndale perspective.
 L'il Farmer
 Big Lake, MN
Re: violating the spirit of CSA??    (Posted Thu, Oct 11 '12 at 11:15 UTC)

The farmer has the right to sell elsewhere when running a CSA. They rarely just do CSA only. Maybe they don't think the 'interesting' stuff is wanted by the shareholders. I highly recommend bringing it up to them and saying you feel you are missing some of what you should be getting.
Meanwhile write down everything you get and go to a market and price your basket and see how much it is worth. If it is lower than it should be you can tell the farmer that. They cannot read your minds. I encourage my shareholders to ask questions and make requests and they surprise me! One wanted kale instead of ground cherries for instance. I would never have guessed that. Sometimes they say they get too many tomatoes which again surprises me. So communicate with the farmer and that will help.

Grandma's Garden, naturally raised veggies, herbs and cut flowers.
 hoot gibson
 Herald
Re: violating the spirit of CSA??    (Posted Tue, Nov 20 '12 at 04:40 UTC)

I am sad for this the whole idea is for the community to benefit if a CSA wants to supply a restaurant that's fine grow more to accommodate do not cut your clients off,they were the backbone to begin with, to make more money from the food industry for your family well that great, just don;t make others pay for your success

Hog and Dogs Ranch/Produce
 wvhaugen
 Ferndale
Re: violating the spirit of CSA??    (Posted Tue, Nov 20 '12 at 04:59 UTC)

You do realize that most small-scale farmers are subsidizing their customers don't you? That includes CSA farms.

Catering to the unique Ferndale perspective.
 Egg Lady
 Silverdale
Re: violating the spirit of CSA??    (Posted Tue, Nov 20 '12 at 09:36 UTC)

My thinking is that the CSA customers should be receiving the best product the farmer raises. I've heard the complaint that the CSA product looks poor when the better looking product goes elsewhere. The income generated by CSA sales is critical to help the farmer get started and through the lean months. That CSA customer is an important customer.
I agree that you should talk to your farmer and definitely let them know how you feel regarding the quantity and quality of their products. You should price check the items. Listen to their response and consider how reasonable it sounds. Farmers do work very hard but their typical first consideration is to please their clients. That's our first consideration on our farm.

Egg Lady
 idigbeets
 Laurel Highlands PA
Re: violating the spirit of CSA??    (Posted Tue, Nov 20 '12 at 02:25 UTC)

Have you talked to the farmer about the "interesting items"? Have you seen the produce going to market/restaurants, or are you repeating a rumor?

How much do you pay for a share? We sell CSA shares for $25/week and they include everything that normally goes to restaurants or farmers markets. Even then, I'm nowhere near making my goal of $10/hour and up.

Think about how hard a farmer works, even a 2 acre parcel requires full time commitment, to produce a share for $25. E.g. I sell at 2 farmers markets, and 10 CSA shares, at the height of tomato season we gross $250-300 from the markets total, and $250 from the CSA. That's 500/week gross for 60 or so hours work, minus all my expenses, amortization of equipment etc, and we're way below $10/hour.

Farmers currently subsidize YOUR food...

PS I also work an outside job, w/out it I wouldn't have extra money coming in for unexpected expenses...

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