Re: Tools for Small CSA's
How I got my first subscribers:
I had sold at local farmers' markets for 5 years before becoming a CSA. I
worked up a flier and began handing them out at the market. I also took out a
classified ad in the local health food store's newsletter which is free. I
also ended up being invited to give a talk about it to a local home owners
group. I started out with about 30 subscribers, got up to about 45, and am
now at around 25. I am fairly well known in the area and have had good news
coverage of my little farm. It helps to be different and in a college town
with several newspapers and newsletters going out from non-profit
organizations. I have trades for auto mechanic and another for book keeping,
I traded one share for a used heavy duty push mower.
I was the first CSA in the area and encouraged company. Laughing Planet Farm
was the second. I think they have about 40 members. This guy Mat has had
another for about a year with about a dozen subscribers that I just found out
about. He has discontinued it and is selling at the farmers markets. Two
sisters (16 and 20 years old) from an old established farm family began
another this spring, mostly selling fruit.
As far as setup, Laughing Planet Farm seems to be the best. They are a young
couple with one &1/4 acres. They built their modest residence over a large 2
car garage and have a small greenhouse. They built a small insulated room in
their garage with an airconditioner. They harvest their produce and sort it
into individual boxes, place it in the cool room and turn on the air
conditioner for an hour and a half. Subscribers come and pick up their
produce from the cool room.
It is an intimate, efficient little operation. They got their subscribers
much the same way as I did. Word spreads.
For the first two years of CSA I gave up Markets entirely, devoting myself to
my subscribers. Though valuable it was in part a mistake. I am now selling
excess at market.
Someone advised that they had lost more subscribers because they got too much
than they had because they got too little.
I replied that I thought we were going to run into difficulty if we thought
we could do too much for our subscribers. I am now ready to eat my words.
People want "enough" not "too much". They develop a lot of guilt about
nuff fer now, thanks for the interest.