2017 CSA NEWS:
As the times are changing in many ways, so too with Community Supported Agriculture. We surveyed members to hear feedback on different offerings considered for next CSA season.
1. Offering a VEGGIE ONLY box
in addition to the current “Main Share” which has the bread, eggs, cheese, fresh
fruit, dried fruit, and other dry goods
2. Offering online
registration and payment
3. Offering a gluten-free and vegan option
The decision was to add a NO-Bread share plus a Veggie/Fruit Only share.
Also to have online registration but to forgo online payment at this time.
If you’d like to know a little history behind this and the CSA movement, here it is:
Spiritual Food CSA began in 1997, 19 years ago, when most people had no idea what a CSA was and most CSAs were following what is now called the traditional model where members subscribed directly to one farm that would guarantee the integrity of the food and the subsistence of the farm for the benefit of the community and farmer alike: food sovereignty 1 [see below for excellent definition]. Over the years, many variations to this model have emerged thanks to creativity of farmers and community groups alike meeting farmers and consumer needs and abilities. Businesses also jumped into the food-consciousness movement with a commercial model that, well, can compromise integrity and offer stiff competition for small farms.
Membership in CSAs grew rapidly from the mid-90’s to mid-2000’s, as did the number of CSAs in the country. Spiritual Food CSA membership grew to 140-150 shares. Some reasons: food consciousness increased demand for high quality and organic food, the price of gas and therefore price of food jumped dramatically motivating people to seek local food sources, and an increasingly hectic lifestyle and disconnect from nature drew people back to the land or at least to supporting people who work with the land and true food. Then, CSA growth reached a plateau. Several articles, along with our own experience, point to this plateau and to a decline in memberships as not only a saturated market but difficulty for members to maintain a commitment for a season to a single farm’s harvest in our increasingly complicated lives. We read that many CSAs have about a 60% retention rate which means they must reach out and enroll 40% more every year to maintain their membership level. That’s a big burden for a farm that, we feel, should be free to do what they do best which is grow food and heal the earth.
Our CSA member renewal rate was 75% in the first 10 years or so, and is more like 60% now, BUT . . .
A good portion of our reduced number of annual shares is not losing members but people switching from a full (weekly) to half (bi-weekly) share. E.g. this year we have 150 members representing 94 total shares whereas before 150 members would be a total of 130 shares.
Our goal is to provide the most possible shares for the farm along with meeting needs of member consumers. Therefore, this year again, we are joining forces with the changing times to offer more flexibility and convenience while remaining true to the concept of supporting one main CSA farm, Kimberton CSA.
We are also wholly dedicated to the cause of BIODYNAMICS. An article published in Lilipoh Winter 2017 on REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE gives another angle to what BD farming has been doing all along: healing the earth. See “Curbing Climate Change Through Biodynamic Agriculture” by the managing director of Demeter USA, the certifying body for Biodynamic farms across the USA. Look for this topic on this website under Why Biodynamics.
1 "Food sovereignty", a term coined by members of Via Campesina in 1996, asserts that the people who produce, distribute, and consume food should control the mechanisms and policies of food production and distribution, rather than the corporations and market institutions they believe have come to dominate the global food system. Wikipedia
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In preparing the next CSA year, we are proposing a few changes in the price structure and request feedback from the membership to go forward. The changes are not dramatic but are intended to better reflect the administration and offer some benefit for those who make a bigger commitment to the CSA.
Enrolling and guiding new members and managing bi-weekly shares requires more administrative time while regular members keep it going year after year. The proposed price structure reflects this. It also covers aslight increase asked by the main farmer Erik, from Kimberton CSA, and maintains the same level of supplemental foods we get from other small farms (i.e. the organic and biodynamic fruits and dry goods, plus vegetables that the Kimberton farm cannot provide.) In contrast, for the last 2 years the price was the same for all except for an Early Bird discount for full year weekly members. Before that, for many years, the price was not changed more than $50-100 for the various types of membership.
Note: The results of this member survey were in full support of this change.
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Spring 2014 - news from the farms, the food climate, and the effect of recent changes made in the CSA
The farmers really need our support as they face Climate Change and this hostile political climate. Our ability to choose what we eat is at stake.
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- our earth home, the bodies we occupy and all living things.
It seems that little by little, as technology grows, sensitivity to life diminishes. Yes, it is true that young people sitting at computers in the USA are trained to send drones to kill live human beings on the other side of the planet. Is there no end to the demolition of life as we know it? We may not be physically unconscious but are we growing mentally, emotionally, and spiritually unconscious? The makers of GMOs are knowingly changing Nature, but we do not have to buy into it.
Yes, we are inundated daily with doomsday dramas, information, choices and decisions making it increasingly challenging to manage the mounting stress and to live a pure life; but no, this is not another message to add guilt or despair to our repertoire. This is a message for a simple step we can take to make a difference.
The best and easiest way to avoid GMOs is to join a CSA (be sure it is organic or Biodynamic). Food comes straight from a farm that you know and trust on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Not only are you giving your Self and your family true food for life, but you will be giving support to organizations and farmers so they may continue to provide the true source of life. CSA is a new economic model that changes the rules of the game. Instead of a competitive “free market” with winners and losers, the CSA model is a win for all.
The mission of Biodynamic farming is to heal the earth. Some farmers even say that providing life-enriching food is incidental to this higher calling. But providing food imbued with life force is exactly what they do. It is noticeable in the taste and in the vitality of those who share in its abundance.
Labeling laws are important to enable us to avoid GMO food but if you eat outside the industrial food system right now you are already preserving life and boycotting GMO, with the bonus of eating good and feeling good. CSA is a win/win for our earth home, the bodies we occupy and all living things.
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The Dangers of Plastic Bags power point presentation
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