Written by Larry Limpf
Saturday, 25 October 2008 19:20
A workshop for farmers interested in establishing a Community Supported Agriculture program will be held Nov. 6 at Ole Zim’s Wagon Shed, State Route 590, in Gibsonburg.
Registration for the workshop, which is being sponsored by the Center for Innovative Food Technology, begins at 9 a.m. The workshop will run from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Speakers will be John and Diane Franklin, who operate the Rocky Gardens CSA in Davisburg, Michigan.
Under CSA formats, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, members of a community pledge support to a farm operation and share in the risks and rewards of food production. Typically, members or “share-holders” of the farm pledge in advance to cover the anticipated costs for the farm operation. In return, they receive a share in the farm’s harvest throughout the growing season. By selling directly to community members, who have provided the farmer with working capital in advance, the grower gains some financial security and is relieved of much of the burden of marketing.
Mr. and Mrs. Franklin have operated a farm for seven years and will discuss how they began their CSA program, membership, pest control, insurance, and how to extend the growing season.
Information on what to grow, when to increase the number of patron members, how much product should be included in shares, and other related issues will also be discussed.
According to the Department of Agriculture, many CSAs offer a variety of vegetables, fruits, and herbs in season. Some provide a full array of farm produce, including shares in eggs, milk, baked goods, and even firewood. Some farms offer a single commodity, or team up with others so that members receive goods throughout much of the year.
CSAs are structured to meet the needs of the participants, so there are many variations, including different levels of financial commitment and active participation by members and the legal form of the farm operation.
CSA is sometimes referred to as “subscription farming.”
Growers usually contract directly with members, who have agreed in advance to buy a minimum amount of produce at a fixed price but have little or no investment in the farm.
The number of CSAs in the United States was estimated at 50 in 1990, and has since grown to more than 2000, according to the Local Harvest website.
The fee for the workshop is $15 per person or two for $25. The fee covers informational flyers and a CSA training manual.
To reserve a seat contact Nancy Hansen at the Center for Innovative Food Technology, (419) 535-6000, ext. 140.