It’s CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) sign- up time in Michigan. In a CSA, a local farmer offers shares to buyers. The up-front purchase supports the farmer as the crops get started. Then, the buyer gets produce weekly through the growing season. Have you considered doing this in your business or office?
I contacted Garrett Ziegler, Extension Educator, Community Food Systems at the MSU Extension Greening Michigan Institute for information. He assists local institutions in sourcing and serving more locally produced food and works closely with local farmers to help them access new markets.
Start by surveying your employees regarding why they want to join a CSA Farm and to make sure they are interested. What kind of produce are they interested in? Do they cook often? Do they need recipe ideas? The business will need to meet the minimum share requirements to start a pick-up site. You could also partner with neighboring businesses.
You will need an onsite coordinator to research the farms and size of shares. Also, they will need to communicate the plan to buyers, send reminder emails, communicate with the farmer, and be there to make sure that the pick-ups go smoothly. Someone will need to occasionally clean up husks, break down boxes, etc.
Here are some logistical questions to ask.
- What day of the week does your farm deliver its shares? A 3- to 4-hour pick-up window is typical.
- Where will food be delivered to?
- Will the space be heated/cooled? Will sunlight hit the boxes at any point?
- Is there a loading dock?
- Are their stairs or an elevator?
- Security – is the door locked? Is it easily opened? Will the delivery driver need a key card?
- If someone forgets to pick up their share, can food stay in place overnight, or does it need to be dealt with/picked up the same day? Is there a kitchen on site that can store food in a cooler?
- What happens to shares that are not picked up?
Use this link from Local Harvest to find a CSA near you.