Re: marketing strategies

Dear Sharyl,

The question of "marketing strategies" continues to be a difficult one for
me, especially as a Californian.  

My concept of Community Supported Agriculture has an emphasis on building
community.  "Marketing strategies" seems a particularly West coast take on
CSA.  Unlike Europe or the East where CSA is consumer-driven, getting
together hiring a farmer to grow for them or seek to support a particular
farm because of the stewardship shown to the land, here in California, CSA
seems to be another farmer-driven marketing tool.

I'm up against a "CSA" where the "farmer" buys produce at a wholesale house
and from larger organic farms in the region and puts together custom share
boxes.  Because this person spends almost no time growing produce, the time
is spent marketing the diversity this "CSA" can provide.

We provide produce from our farm and one local orchard with whom we trade.
  We educate about eating locally and seasonally.  This is, however, an
uphill battle when our time is necessarily spent growing the food our
shareholders eat.  Consumer habits are that of having virtually anything
available at any time of the year from the supermarket.

It's not that we're no fun, we have hootenannies and festivals for our
shareholders and their friends, classes, and help days.  We have work offset
shares for those who wouldn't be able to afford a share otherwise and "plant
a row" for the local women's shelter, but we are asking people to make
lifestyle changes and that's difficult.  

We need more shareholders and remain convinced there are people out there who
want our kind of CSA.  Still, we are only serving half the families we could
while the other "CSA" has almost 5X as many shareholders as we do.  

Building community takes more effort and time than selling produce.  If we
can hold out for another year, we should have something really solid.
 Meanwhile, the economics are troublesome.

Thoughts from the list are welcome,