STARTING A CSA ＝CSAの始め方＝ by Denise Palma Ferrante
CSAとは、Community Supported Agriculture、地域支援型農業(農家支援コミュ)です。
2018年に、私のミニコミ「Lippen und Zunge」のために、ファウンダーのDeniseにこの原稿「CSAの始め方」を寄稿してもらいました。その後、今、せっかくHPを持ったので、ここにその原稿を転載させてもらって、CSAの素晴らしさをもっと広めたいなと思い立ちました。
In 2014, at the invitation of Denise, I became a members of the CSA which Denise and Liina start.
CSA is Community Supported Agriculture.
It's been 9 years since I came to Berlin, and I think the best thing about the last nine years is that I joined this group.
That's a great project.
Our group supports Bienenwerder OLiB, an organic farm about an hour east of Berlin.
Basically, it is difficult for farmers to stabilize, if they have poor crops due to the influence of the weather, or if they are organic not use pesticides or fertilizers much more difficult to stabilize.
Also, probably because there is a political bond between large companies and politics in every country, small privately run farmers are not as well supported by the government as large company farmers.
In order to provide stable income to unstable farmers and have them work with peace of mind, our group (currently about 25 people) cooperates directly, pays a fixed amount every month, and buys vegetables.
Even if we can't get any vegetables that month due to a natural disaster, we will pay a fixed monthly fee.
Vegetables are sent to us from what is left over after wholesale the vegetables to the market and secure enough for the farmers to eat.
From time to time, there is a connection to help farmers and participate in harvest festivals.
I asked Denise to write this manuscript "How to get started with CSA" for the gin "Lippen und Zunge" made in 2018.
And since I had this HP, I asked her to reprint the manuscript here.
pure DIY or independent, the joy of buying directly from a reliable/decent farmer without being incorporated into any system, the feeling of doing something is great, the fresh vegetables are powerful, and taste of hope for the future.
I hope this will be helpful for those who want to do something nice 🙏
STARTING A CSA Denise Palma Ferrante (https://www.instagram.com/theforkedhand/)
TAKE CONTROL OF WHERE YOUR FOOD COMES FROM AND
SUPPORT SUSTAINABLE FARMING PRACTISES
What does CSA stand for?
Community Supported Agriculture
What is it's purpose?
To self-organise the delivery of your food to your table and to financially support local farmers all year round
To cut out the middleman (or men) and get your fruit, vegetables and animal products directly from a farmer or farmers from your local area
To learn about farming practises and get your hands dirty
to share the risks and benefits of food production with the farmers
Big supermarket chains (including even organic ones) pressure farmers into selling their produce at reduced costs so as to make more profit. They also request standardised sizing of produce (round apples, carrots that are straight, everything uniformly sized). The farmer always ends up losing. By cutting out all the middlemen all profits go directly to the farm that does all the hard work and aids them in covering costs to keep the farm running.
Because farming and land sustainability is key. Besides organic food tasting better, little to no chemicals are used which means they are not destroying our planet and are creating and continuing biodiversity. Organic farmers are ACTIVELY trying to save our planet and our health, so they need consumers support to do this.
Organic farms do not receive financial subsidies from the government. The mega pharmaceutical companies that control standard farming techniques with chemicals like fertilisers and antibiotics control the governments decisions to financially subsidise farmers and monoculture farming practises. The farmers that receive the most subsidies are usually the biggest and most powerful therefore leaving little room for competition from small and organic farms.
How do I start a CSA?
Most likely you know someone or know someone who knows someone who is an organic farmer. Ask around. If you don't know anyone there are very few major cities or even small towns that don't have a weekly organic market. Go down and speak to producers. Look online. It takes a little research but is well worth it in the end. Search for farms that are within a 100 km radius of where you live or ones that already deliver in your city or town. Remember that sustainability is also part of the concept so choosing farmers within your vicinity reduces your carbon footprint. Maybe they have a CSA already set up or perhaps they have never heard of one. No problem. You can probably convince them that it's a great idea because it is.
Visit the farm before you make any deals. If you already have a bunch of friends who are interested in starting a CSA make a day trip out of it.
Ask lots of questions: what fertilisers (if any) do they use? Where do the seeds come from? Where does the feed for animals come from? What pesticides (if any) do they use? What are their farming practises? Who is working there? Is cheap labour being used? Is milk produced all year round? etc.
I have found a great farm or farms, what do I do now?
Well that's fantastic, but now is where the real organisational part starts. Spread the work out between all future members. It should take just a couple of weeks before you can receive your first delivery. Here are some tips of what you'll need to do next.
Step 1. Find a delivery space
You will need to find a place/space where your produce can get delivered. Back in the city every space usually costs a price, but not always. Maybe you know someone who has a studio, an empty basement that's easily accessible, a shed, a church or a shop that you could use once a week to get your produce delivered to. It's important that you don't pay for it so it's probably best that either it is a social space or someone who ultimately will be a member of the CSA who will be providing the space. Most importantly, be respectable of the needs and requests of the people providing you the space. Keep it clean and ordered and pick up your produce on time.
If you are receiving animal products that need refrigeration then it is important that there is an electrical connection and a refrigerator on hand.
If the space is only accessible with a key then organise keys for members. It is best to have an open space that is easily accessible at all times or at least during business hours.
Step 2. Set up a bank account
Set up a free bank account (online ones are usually good) that is used exclusively for the purpose of the CSA. This way it is easier for the person doing accounts to have an overview of who has paid and also to set up a monthly automatic payment to the farm directly.
Step 3. Schedule a weekly delivery day
Arrange a delivery day and hour with the farm. Obviously if your are receiving meats or cheeses you need to store them in the fridge immediately. If you are receiving fruit and vegetables only then you won't need too many extras. The produce should be picked up on the day of delivery so as to avoid things like wilting and rotting vegetables or being eaten by rats (especially if it's in a basement or so).
Step 4. Set-up weekly schedule of teams who will sort the produce
Set up something like a doodle calendar for all members with the delivery dates for several months filled in. Depending on the size of your CSA you will need between 2-4 members per week to sort the produce fairly between all boxes. Most farms deliver several crates of diverse produce that needs to be then separated evenly between all boxes.
Step 5. Organise a fair pricing system
During spring, summer and autumn you will be receiving an abundance of produce, not so in winter. The idea is to set a monthly fee that is fair for both the farm and it's members, that gets paid even in the months where there is little or next to no produce. The monthly fee is therefore balanced and reflected in the pricing system.
In our CSA we pay €45 for single members, and €50 for shared. (now 2021 it is 50and 60Euro)We only receive vegetables and everyone receives the same amount. If calculated that is €11,25 per week (for single members) for amazing organic produce. If your farm also has meat, cheese and eggs you should probably calculate more and discuss how often these extra products will get delivered. Don't forget you are self-organising. Anything is possible. Just find a method.
As farms usually sell to shops and restaurants which want all the pretty looking produce arrange to receive the more interesting looking shapes and sizes so that the low price is justified. This produce is difficult for the farm to sell so it can be sold to your CSA at a low price. It doesn't mean the produce is bad - just that it doesn't fit into a standardised consumer viewpoint or expectation. Nature produces some incredible shapes and sizes - enjoy the variety.
If you are receiving from separate farms you will have to figure out a pricing and payment set up that goes out to all farms.
Step 6. Set up group email list
Create a group emailing list so that all CSA related content and communication with members goes out from one email address. Try alternative lists like riseup.
Step 7. Set up monthly work days on the farm
Work? Yes, that's right, work.
Community Supported Agriculture also means going to the farm and helping out every now and then. You just need to get there (important it's not far from your city or town) and then work for a day. Most farms always need helping hands. Here is your opportunity to help plant the seeds of your vegetables, clear fields of weeds, shovel some dung, chop wood for winter storage, harvest crops etc. The purpose of a CSA is to have contact with the food you receive. Otherwise you can just go to a supermarket and buy your stuff off the shelf.
Set up a monthly work day (eg.every 3rd Sunday) whereby the farmers can set up work that needs lots of helping hands. Organise car pooling or travelling together by train so that the farmers can pick you all up at the same time.
Besides that one can organise all sorts of exchanges, don't restrict yourself to hard labour. Maybe you have got another skill you could offer: website design, hairdressing, cooking, yoga classes, building, electrics. You name it, they could probably use your skills and are grateful for it. At the end of the day it's all work.
Step 8. Write regulations for members
Set up some basic rules for members so that everyone knows what is going on. Bank details, payment details, joining fees, standing orders, joining and leaving the group, responsibilities expected of all members, member meetings, farm working days etc. should all be included on this list. It is up to the founding members to write this together. Your group will probably change over the years so it makes it easy to inform new members with one document. Regulations can be changed over time, usually at an annual meeting of all members. Remember that farms need support all year around. Joining a CSA is a commitment. When winter comes perhaps you'll only receive deliveries twice a month and it's mostly potatoes (depending on where you live).
Be a little strict about when members can leave, how often they work on the farm and how often they sort the deliveries. Make the membership a 1 year commitment, not just one for the high season. Making this clear from the beginning will influence people joining who are really committed to the project.
Include a one off joining fee so that you always have back-up money in the CSA bank account (eg. €20 per person) in case some members are unable to pay on time.
Can the CSA control what is delivered and grown?
It is recommended that you allow the farm to choose what they send you. They will most likely be happy to send you a big mix of produce that is in season and that they need to harvest. Don't start getting picky with all your food likes and dislikes. A CSA membership really is for someone who loves all food and vegetables (obviously not including animal products if you are vegan or vegetarian). If you have allergies or dislikes, then trade your produce with other members.
Most farmers are also happy to have recommendations of what to grow. Speak with them about the possibilities from the onset. Perhaps you know of something that grows easily in their climate and soil. Let them know. If you find organic seeds on your travels buy some and bring them to the farm. Farmers love farming, love new ideas and new things to eat and grow so the exchange benefits all.
You are almost ready to go........
Last words of advice.....
Exchange ideas, share recipes, herbal remedies and wisdom with your fellow members and the farmers. Make it fun. Organise cooking workshops, pickle workshops, herbal remedies workshops. They don't need to take up the whole day. Just a few hours and you'll learn some new way of cooking. If that's too much work then share over your mailing list.
A CSA is a small commitment in contributing to the sustainability of food production, purchasing power and community building.
You will be making a difference.