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Author Topic: New to CSA
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  pawper
  anderson
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New to CSA    (Posted Wed, Nov 27 '13 at 09:36 UTC)

I am retiring in a month from my day job, I have been growing veg for the better part of 25 years. I have had some success but not to the extent we had this past year. I installed a drip watering system and it made all the difference in production. Anyway, I have decided to start a CSA. I am getting a lot of information on what people produce etc, but am not sure how to advertise my CSA. I am thinking about Facebook as a viable option. And also I need some info about where to purchase the boxes to put produce in. What size etc. I am only starting with 20 shares this year, something I think I can handle myself with some assistance from my wife, but don't want to overload either one of us. I am going to have pick up at our farm, because when I talk to others about this issue, they say drop off places take away a lot of the profit. Pricing is another issue that I have been back and forth on. I am trying to price the shares by what that size fiamily would spend on veg each week. I am also considering givning seniors over 65 a 10% discount. My operation is located in the upstate of SC. Thanks ahead of time for any help or advise you might can give.

I can't He never said I could He can and ALWAYS said He would.
 wvhaugen
 Ferndale
Re: New to CSA    (Posted Wed, Nov 27 '13 at 07:18 UTC)

First off, I would consider only 10 shares your first year. Secondly, you should go visit a working CSA farm and find out the downsides - there are plenty. If you have to make an appointment and drive an hour or more just to talk to a CSA farmer on the ground, it will still be well worth it.

You cannot imagine what you are getting yourself into. Do your homework.

Catering to the unique Ferndale perspective.
 Jay S
 Sauquoit
Re: New to CSA    (Posted Thu, Dec 5 '13 at 03:27 UTC)

I just started as a CSA farmer in 2013. I had been gardening and had been a dairy farmer so I thought that I had a pretty good handle on things. I was amazed when people didn't understand that produce doesn't grow overnight. Here in Central New York it's rare to have tomatoes in June that are grown outside, carrots aren't all perfectly straight, and real vegetables have dirt on them. I explained this to people before I accepted their money. I also explained that Mother Nature had a controlling interest how the plants matured and produced. People still didn't get it and demanded vegetables that weren't ripe or vegetables that had already gone by.
I agree with another comment, stay small, about 10 shares, until you can decide if this is for you. I had 14 this year, all said they understood what i had told them. Of the 14, 1 fully understood, 5 understood but weren't 100% satisfied, 3 more were not sure if CSA was right for them. The remaining 5 complained every week about the selection. Their complaints ranged from variety, quantity, quality, to size, shape, and how dirty.
I will sell shares again in 2014 but I will have some changes. I will include a page about growing vegetables and a page showing the expected growing and ripening season with the contract. The contract will also include more about Mother Nature's involvement in farming.
Good luck with your new adventure. You know where your food comes from, make sure that your potential subscribers also.

Jay Sprague
 L'il Farmer
 Big Lake, MN
Re: New to CSA    (Posted Fri, Dec 6 '13 at 02:33 UTC)

I got a lot of complainers my first year too. I had marketed the program as cost effective for them and I believe that gave me the wrong sort of customers. I have gotten better at how I pack the shares and how much I give of each thing depending on family size, but I think that first year they had awesome stuff but didn't realize it. I gave almost $650 worth of produce for $400 and they didn't think they got enough. Although the couple good ones I had that had done CSAs before said they loved it and had plenty and gave some away. So it is in the customer's point of view I guess.

Grandma's Garden, naturally raised veggies, herbs and cut flowers.
 pawper
 anderson
Re: New to CSA    (Posted Fri, Dec 6 '13 at 10:46 UTC)

One thing I got going for me I think is that I am pretty well known in some of the places in this county. I was a John Deere dealer several years ago and we built our buisness by giving service second to none, in our opinion anyway. I also pastored the same church for almost 21 years. I am going to do the advertising for the CSA through my facebook page and most of the people I will deal with will have some knowledge of me and my desire to give them what they pay for. I have already sold my pastor now 1/2 share. I know that dealing with people at any level can be a challenge. The job I am retiring from is dealing with people on a daily basis and some of them are not in too good of a mood. I am so grateful for the comments and the advise you folks are giving me. Keep it coming. Have any of you ever offered anyone's money back if they complain too much? I thought I would hold some of the upfront money in escrow for such. Thanks again for the comments. By the way is there any certain supplier that you use for your container boxes?

I can't He never said I could He can and ALWAYS said He would.
 idigbeets
 Laurel Highlands PA
Re: New to CSA    (Posted Fri, Dec 6 '13 at 11:00 UTC)

Yes, if someone complains ALL the time..and is a headache every pick up.. I ask them if they want a refund on the remaining weeks of their share, and send them on their way. I also will not sign them up the following year, they will be wait listed.... and wait... and wait.

 wvhaugen
 Ferndale
Re: New to CSA    (Posted Fri, Dec 6 '13 at 05:43 UTC)

I offer a pro-rated refund for ANY reason. Once this happened because I provide too much food. Another time it was because the people half a mile up the road couldn't be bothered to drive down for their share, even though they shop at a store in town 4 miles away. (Ridiculous isn't it?) I also reserve the right to boot people out of the program for any reason. I once booted a family out because they were argumentative, disrespectful AND drove on my lawn. (Three strikes you're out.)

Here's a fun fact for you. I put in 75 hours labor per share and the shareholders are putting in about 25 hours labor per share . This is probably a good estimate of the disparity in any CSA program, farmers market stall, or farm stand. Since you the farmer are doing so much for the consumer and don't get paid anywhere near what you are worth, you certainly don't have to deal with disrespect.

Catering to the unique Ferndale perspective.
 L'il Farmer
 Big Lake, MN
Re: New to CSA    (Posted Sat, Dec 7 '13 at 02:32 UTC)

Yes those employees that are picketing about poverty wages right now make more than I do growing vegetables and baking for market. But I do what I enjoy.

Grandma's Garden, naturally raised veggies, herbs and cut flowers.
 Precision John
 Hillsville
Re: New to CSA    (Posted Fri, Dec 27 '13 at 01:48 UTC)

Only starting with 20 shares ? Do yourself a favor, and begin your operation with only 10 share or so, so you can "feel" your way into your CSA operation. We started with only 6 shares, and now do 12 shares, which is our limit. But we also offer a "sampler" box for $35, at our home based farm stand, which is only open on Saturdays. As one box is sold, we prepare another box. We have a lot of tourist folks that visit here in the Blue Ridge Mountain area of Virginia, and the "sampler" CSA box is a good option for those folks. And no need to return the box.
J.L. Silver Maples Farm, Hillsville

John S. Lynch
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