Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

8 Steps to Forming Your Own CSA

Now that the harvest is coming in, you’re probably thinking about next year’s growing season and whether Community Supported Agriculture is the way to go. By joining a CSA, you’re supporting local farmers, minimizing your carbon footprint, and eating fresh, healthy produce all in one fell swoop. But what if there is no CSA in your area?

Why not start your own?

The following article has been excerpted from Sharing the Harvest: A Citizen’s Guide to Community Supported Agriculture, Revised and Expanded by Elizabeth Henderson with Robyn Van En.

1. Initiators (either farmers or group of nonfarmers) issue a call to form a CSA. You can seek members:

  1. among friends or neighbors
  2. among existing groups: day cares, environmental or consumer organizations, churches, civic groups, schools or other institutions, workplaces

2. Hold exploratory meeting of prospective sharers and farmer(s). Possible agenda:

  1. what is a CSA?
  2. why eat locally grown food?
  3. why small farms need support
  4. assess level of commitment of participants
  5. if interest is high enough, create founding core group

3. At this meeting or a subsequent meeting, come to agreement on the group’s values:

  1. does the group want organic food?
  2. does the group want locally grown food?
  3. does the group want racial, ethnic, and economic diversity among members?
  4. is it important to involve children?
  5. will all members contribute work, or will some buy out by paying a higher fee?
  6. do members want to share production risks with the farm(s)?
  7. what commodities does the group want?
  8. does the group want to share mailing list with other groups?

4. Organize the core group to:

  1. decide on farmer(s)
  2. decide growing site
  3. decide how and where food will be distributed
  4. divide up member responsibilities
  5. approve the budget proposed by the farmer(s)
  6. set fee policy and payment schedule
  7. clarify expectations as to variety and quantity of food
  8. set guidelines on participation of children (if desired)
  9. decide who owns any equipment purchased

5. The core group recruits members for first season:

  1. post flyers
  2. organize recruitment meeting
  3. talk up idea with friends
  4. place notices in organizations, churches, and do flyer mailing to likely groups
  5. send out press release
  6. find friendly reporter to write story

6. Members make commitment:

  1. to pay in advance of receipt of food (whether by season, month, or other schedule) and regardless of quantity and quality of food due to weather conditions
  2. to participate in farm, distribution, and other CSA work

7. Establish the legal status of the CSA. Many groups defer decisions on legal structure for a season or two. Advice from a lawyer may be helpful. Existing options include:

  1. consumer cooperative
  2. sole proprietorship or partnership of farmer(s)
  3. corporation or limited liability company
  4. nonprofit corporation (or branch of existing one)
  5. farmer-owned co-op

8. Determine capitalization of the farm(s). Many CSAs start with minimum of rented or borrowed land and equipment. For the longer term, decisions must be made on purchase and maintenance. Options include:

  1. farmer(s) capitalize
  2. members capitalize through fees
  3. the group seeks grants
  4. the group seeks loans. Possible sources include Farm Credit, National Cooperative Bank, members, commercial banks, revolving loan funds, pre-sale of farm produce coupons
Options for land tenure include:
  1. private holding
  2. land trust
  3. lease agreement with private owner or institution


How to Design Swales for Optimum Water Flow

May has arrived! The birds are chirping, flowers are budding, and it’s time to officially celebrate Permaculture Month.Throughout the next few weeks, we are putting our pioneering permaculture authors to work for you in our “Ask the Experts” series. If you are looking to become a better permaculturalist, there’s still time to participate. Submit your questions here.Today’s topic is […] Read More

Radical Ruminations of a Home Gardener

The editors here at Chelsea Green are constantly seeking out what’s new and important in the world of sustainable living. As part of an occasional blog series, our editors are sharing what they’ve been reading, researching, or just plain pondering. Below Senior Editor Fern Marshall Bradley daydreams about the coming growing season and reflects on some radical gardening ideas inspired by Maine farmer […] Read More

Not Level? No Problem. How to Build a Greenhouse on a Slope

Have you ever considered building a greenhouse on sloped terrain? It may not seem like the “perfect spot,” but as permaculture designer and farmer Shawn Jadrnicek points out, a sloped site for a greenhouse offers a bonus that a level site does not—the ability to use gravity to harvest rainwater.In his groundbreaking new book, The Bio-Integrated Farm, Jadrnicek offers in-depth information […] Read More

Ask the Experts: Submit Your Permaculture Questions Now

Attention all growers, food-lovers, and green-living enthusiasts, we are once again celebrating Permaculture Month by putting our pioneering permaculture authors to work for you.Chelsea Green is proud to publish and distribute some of the most recognized, and award-winning, names in permaculture, and we’re making several of them available to our readers to answer any and all […] Read More

Hands-On Learning: School of The New American Farmstead

This summer, twelve of our authors (plus Chelsea Green’s own President and Publisher) will be leading hands-on intensive courses at Sterling College in Craftsbury, Vermont.These workshops, classes, and certifications will inspire you, equip you with marketable skills, and provide you with new perspectives on integrated, community-centered farming and food production.Engage your SensesThe hands-on courses will […] Read More
Follow us
Get every new post delivered to your inbox
Join millions of other followers
Powered By WPFruits.com