The Southern Piedmont Farm School started this week, and it is going to be one of the best yet! Teaching new and transitioning farmers to become better stewards is a great opportunity. Most of the students will either decide farming is not for them or will become a great farmer. Farming is tough and with most of the population being five to six generations off the farm, it can be hard for them to relate to the farmers. I thought for this week’s article, I would talk about a type of marketing strategy that new and more seasoned farmers are using to help increase their market. It can be misunderstood but hopefully with a little explanation, the benefits will be clear!
A frequent question I get while working in local food is, “What is a CSA?” CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Once I say that, most people are still confused as to what it means. If you purchase a share of a CSA, it is almost like buying stocks, but there is a more immediate return on the investment. You are purchasing a stock or investment into the growing season of the farm. If the season is good, you will be rewarded with a bountiful harvest. If the season is bad, you are sharing the loss with the farmer. Usually, this investment has high returns with little risk, but you are still taking a risk nonetheless. Usually CSAs last a few weeks. I once helped start one that ran for 18 weeks, providing lots of produce to those who bought a share. Some are shorter, and some can go longer than 32 weeks. It depends on the need of the clients. Most of the shares are either delivered or picked up at a meeting site. The share boxes have a variety of four to seven crops and the amount varies on the type of share you purchase. Shares are usually divided into boxes for a family of 2 or 4. Farms are also becoming more diversified so they can provide lots of options and some can create custom boxes to fit the needs of the family. Some of the CSAs I have worked with over the years have branched out to offer more options by adding locally made/sourced breads and baked goods, soups, jams & jellies, soaps, lotions, honey, eggs, and meat. There is even a seafood CSA! Rowan County has a few farms that provide CSAs or they could be called something different but are very similar.
Some of the farms that have their own CSA are Two Pigs Farm, Patterson Farms, Red Barn Market (Correll Farm), and Third Creek Cottage Gardens. Most are gearing up for this year’s season and have not yet finished their latest brochures but if you are interested in a CSA share, contact:
Two Pigs Farm
Owners: Chase & Yorke Reynolds
Red Barn Market (Correll Farm)
Old fashioned home delivery!
Owners: David & Cheryl Correll
Third Creek Cottage Gardens
Owners: Bevin & Troy Fink
If you would like to learn more about CSAs, the Southern Piedmont Farm School, or gardening/farming in general, contact your local Cooperative Extension Agent, Danelle Cutting, at 704-216-8970.READ THE REST »