Our long term goal is to create a year-round, full diet, free choice CSA experience in which members have access to a wide array of the highest quality foods, and have total choice as to what products they want to take and in what quantity. We see this model as offering a lot of benefits for our members and for the farm. By restructuring how we sell our food, we hope to make small steps towards strengthening the sense of place and ownership our members have to the food, farming, and people of this land.
For our members, we hope it will enable us to provide the highest quality food, grown in the best possible way - for land, animal, and human well-being. We want our members to feel as a sense of place at the farm, and to know and understand that the farming practices they are supporting are done with the utmost attention and care.
For us, we want to create a stable, long term community support system for the farm that allows us to prioritize personal and land health. For many farms, decisions are made at the expense of animal well-fare, worker livelihoods, or environmental health. Small farms that develop close relationships with their eaters have the opportunity to do things better.
2018 CSA Changes
This summer, we are making a few key changes that we are very excited about. First, we are beginning to offer an omnivore option that includes our meat. Meat is one of the products that we grow that we are most proud of. In terms of sustainability, our animals are raised as part of intact and diverse ecosystems, their movement on the land builds top soil and stores carbon in the ground. Of course, we believe that it should be a regular part of our CSA members' eating experience.
We are also consolidating our CSA pick-up experience. What is lost in terms of convenience, we know will be made up for in terms of experience and connection. We want our CSA pick-up to be an event that our members look forward to, with opportunities to get to know other members, the farm team, and our plants and animals. In line with our goal of engaging folks of all ages and stages, we hope to create an experience that is fun and engaging for kids as well, and are excited for the opportunities that a single pick-up event offers in this regard.
This new format will also allow for us to offer more choice and flexibility in how our members pack their shares. While we still plan to guide contents and quantities, we will be experimenting with different ways of increasing choice, and paying close attention to member preferences and habits. We hope to learn a lot through this to help us move towards a free-choice model in the future.
Finally, we will be striving to really grow from our core, and encourage more cross-over from those who participate in our educational programming to also eat from the farm.
2019 Summer CSA Planned Changes
By next year, we would be thrilled to be able to transition to a free-choice model in which members take whatever they want in whatever quantity their family needs. We also hope to develop our financial stability enough to create systems for a sliding scale option for CSA members, allowing people to access membership in accordance with their financial means. We also hope to begin accepting SNAP benefits as another means of improving access. In addition to addressing access for our members, it is also a priority to make sure that our food sales support the farm team itself, and is a part of a strategy that allows for all team members to receive living wages and lead balanced lives.
By next year, we also hope to create an annual membership option that allows for longer term commitment and increases financial stability for us, as well as to expand our capacity to offer value-added products that increase variety and food quality across the seasons.
We are exploring the potential for restructuring the business itself, and draw a lot of inspiration from various worker / consumer co-operative models. Right now, we hope to work on cultivating a real sense of place and ownership for our CSA members, and maybe some day this will transform into a new legal status for the farm that acknowledges the eaters as the real owners of the farm. We also see the idea of membership converging across more parts of the farm, and may consider expanding this approach to our education programming as well.
It is also an ongoing goal to be a source of instruction and inspiration for eating seasonally, and to help our members become more adept and creative with food storage and preservation options. And finally, we aspire to permanently park the tractor and harness the power and companionship of horses.