When we originally conceived of Frinklepod 8+ years ago, we knew that it would include a CSA (community supported agriculture) program to help both build a dedicated customer base and offset our early-season expenses. “CSA” is a model that originated in Japan and then Europe, and was introduced to the US in the ‘80s, in an effort to support diversified, small-scale farms against an ever-growing backdrop of industrialized agriculture. The idea was that, in the winter/spring, when farm expenses are greatest, a group of people each commits a certain amount of money to a farm in exchange for their “share” of the future harvest, usually in the form of a weekly or biweekly box of produce, chosen at the farmers’ discretion based on what is available throughout the growing season. The CSA members are sharing in the inherent risks of farming: if it’s a bountiful year, the CSA members receive more veggies; in a challenging year (due to weather, pests, crop failures, etc.), members receive less. In a variation on this theme, I have also heard of a farm where the farmer determines how much annual income they need to both run the farm and make a living wage, gathers together a group of CSA members, and divides the required income by the number of members. For example, if the farmer needs to make $100,000 to operate the farm in a year, and has 100 members, each member pays $1,000 and then receives 1/100th of the season’s harvest.
In the beginning, Noah and I considered the various ways that “CSA” could look for our farm operation. After doing some market research, including speaking with many prospective customers in our area, we learned that people want a sense of choice and freedom when it comes to buying food! People want to choose when they will go to the farm, how often, and which farm products they will take home and turn into their next meal. So, we decided upon a “debit style” CSA model: which members pre-pay in the winter/spring, receive a percentage of “bonus” dollars, and then spend these funds on purchases in the farm stand once the growing season started. If you have been with us since the beginning (thank you!), you remember that we have experimented a bit with the debit style model and also offered the more conventional “CSA boxes” for several years as well. (We just retired this option so that we could focus our attention on keeping the farm store stocked.)
While our offerings have been based on the original CSA concept, they have diverged in one notable way: rather than sharing the risks of the season with the farmer- never being able to predict the quality or yield of the season’s harvest - our members are guaranteed to receive the market value of the price of their CSA membership, because of a free choice plan which does not expire. As an added benefit to our customers, we have recently started partnering with some of our favorite local farmers to keep our farm store well-stocked with our favorite crops that we may not grow enough of or at any given moment may not have success with. For example, if flea beetles demolish a bed of our arugula just before we plan to harvest it, we will do our best to offer you fresh, local, organic arugula by buying some in from farmer Josh of Girard Farm in Lyman.
If you have been following our journey, you are probably aware that we are working towards being a year-round farm business that can be a community resource in all seasons, not just during the traditional growing season that ends by Thanksgiving. We want to support people in eating locally, and thinking about the intersections of food, health, and community, 365 days a year. To emphasize this point, at the end of 2018 we decided to try eliminating our CSA sign-up deadline, allowing people to sign up for a CSA membership at any time of year. But we have come to realize that we still need a critical mass of CSA members to sign up by the spring, in order to maintain a healthy cash flow and keep us on the right track going into the farming season.
We are hereby enacting a deadline of April 15 to join or rejoin the Frinklepod CSA for 2019. Pay $200 or more by April 15, receive 5% bonus dollars, and get a CSA card that can be used as a debit card anytime, for any purchases from Frinklepod Farm. You can add funds anytime (over $200 and you’ll continue to get 5% extra) and your card never expires.
We know it’s hard to think about fresh, local veggies when there’s still snow on the ground! We know it’s hard to set money aside for later when you’ve got bills to pay! We know you have many, many options about where you can buy food to nourish yourself and your family! But, if your budget allows and you feel committed to the idea of supporting your local farm and getting some of the freshest, most delicious food out of the deal, please do consider joining the Frinklepod Farm CSA for 2019.
The deadline is April 15th!