Re: Tools for Small CSA's

Dear Beth and others -

Thought I'd add my two cents to the thread!  I've been wanting to document this anyhow.  Our CSA is near Rochester, NY and this is our first season.  We just decided to do this for certain in January and started recruiting members in March.  So far, we have 53 families signed on (about 36 full-shares - many are half shares).  We are a biodynamic farm and a very participative CSA with regular workshops, festivals, and other events for our membership.

The biggest  new member recruitment method we used was Informational Meetings.

We held informational meetings to share information both about  the CSA concept and about our farm.  I can also send an outline of what we talked about at the mtgs if you'd like.

We advertised informational meetings on flyers and in the press.

We hung flyers everywhere:
-all local stores and shops that have public bulletin boards
-anyplace 'alternative' within 40 miles (co-housing groups, alternative schools, LaLeche League, organic food buying coops/natural food stores, medicinal herb shops, spiritual centers, alternative 'doctors' offices, environmental groups, etc.)  For many of these groups we gave one or more of the group 'leaders'more information about the farm so they could answer basic questions (basically the same info we handed out at the info mtgs).  Several groups also added us to their newsletters.

In the press we looked for "Community Events Calendars" that post happenings for free.  We also put in calls to 'alternative column-writers' at the local papers and had two very nice articles written about us.

98% of the people who attended informational meeting signed on.  People really like to meet the people behind the project.  We also recruited a few core group members this way.  We held info mtgs at various venues including a conference room at a local corporation, a town fire hall, and a spiritual retreat center - trying to touch areas where different types of people would be comfortable.

Now that our informational mtgs are done (and we're focusing on GROWING!) we are creating a generic flyer to post around that tells people to call for more info (vs. attend a mtg for more info).

We have 1 or 2 calls/week now from word-of-mouth references.  We basically send out the same info packet that we gave out at the mtgs.

All of this was a lot of work up front but we think it was worthwhile.  We had a couple strong core group members to help with all this coordination/calling/mailing/posting/etc.  Of course, if you're starting now for next year, you'll have a leg up on us and will be able to do a lot of the prep work over the winter.

Hope this helps!

Deb Denome
Seeking Common Ground CSA
Honeoye Falls, NY

'When nothing is certain, anything is possible.'

> Dear RfarmChico, enjoyed your post, my husband, our business partner, and
> myself are going to accept our first members for the summer 1998, and I
> have a ques for you since you are small and we will be as well, how did you
> get your first members, how many do you now have?