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Hello,
I feel increasing competition among CSA and have been wanting to start one myself on my farm but am concerned about the competition. I am trying to make my farm stand out a lot more by emphasizing crops grown sustainably from a net-zero zero-waste farm although I am wondering if this is really a major appeal to the rest of my community. I feel as though a major factor is the distance of the CSA to my local community that makes the biggest difference in the market. Maybe it is the local culture.
This is a poll that was done to assess that factors that influence CSA and after taking it the results are quite telling. The poll can be taken here where you can see the results after.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe8IhAlLpGaRgU1yZN6Gn28a3jLAEO-EFMbs5FkoDryNbekTw/viewform?...

I am wondering what other people's opinions are on starting up a CSA.
 

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Hello, hello....is there anybody in there.....?
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I am wondering what other people's opinions are on starting up a CSA.
If you're near a big city where folks don't mind paying a lot more for their food it might work.
Around here the Farmer's Markets and grocery stores can't be beat for price and the quality really isn't a lot different.
 

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First of all, welcome to the forum. It would be nice to see the results without having to take a poll that doesn't show the originator. That's a good way to get on the hook for lots of email advertising and spam, in my opinion.

You'll have to find enough customers to accept your produce each week and keep coming back the next year. Being the exclusive distributor for only one subdivision probably won't be enough.You'll have to offer fresh, straight from the garden(field) vegetables that they will want to prepare and cook, if necessary, each day. They will have to use ALL of them in a week unless they give it or throw any excess away. You'll need to offer it as USDA ORGANIC--no in-between terms or practices----in order to distinguish it from grocery store or run of the mill farmers market stuff. You'll have to offer variety, and offer it earlier, and fresher, and better looking than anything they have ever seen. You'll have to change your vegetables each time you deliver...(oh, no, green beans again....). You will have to offer recipes and suggestions for preparation. You'll have to deal with delivery and a lot of field wastage if you deliver once a week. You'll have to produce both in early and late seasons. And you'll have to be timely.

You'll need to find enough customers who will be loyal and keep supporting you. Your competition will be farmers markets, grocery stores, other CSA's, local restaurants, roadside stands and farms --and the newest trend, fresh food delivered in boxes ready to prepare.

But then, you probably know all this. Best of luck.

geo
 

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Hello,
have been wanting to start one myself on my farm but am concerned about the competition. I am trying to make my farm stand out a lot more by emphasizing crops grown sustainably from a net-zero zero-waste farm although I am wondering if this is really a major appeal to the rest of my community. I feel as though a major factor is the distance of the CSA to my local community that makes the biggest difference in the market. Maybe it is the local culture.
The "Market Fresh" demographic has been hijacked by corporate America and dumbed down. Plenty of people smart enough to decipher labels and advertising are there, I just don't know if they are where you are.
As has been said, if you are rural your market won't be locals. Even with cheap/free labor your waste and overhead will hinder selling below market pricing. You seem to already understand the mechanics of setting up a system; that will get you lined up along everyone else that sells produce. Regardless of how you look at it, it will be how the typical urban/suburban consumer looks at it. How you elevate yourself above the rest of the playing field will determine your success. My best pointy headed guess is once you know your costs you have to work on the intangible. You said you are focusing on how your food is grown. Personally, I'd have a longer list of ideas and start throwing them out as many at a time as there are and weigh the results. Godspeed.
 

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I live near, and work in, a large city with disposable incomes. CSA's are everywhere here. We have several solicit our office every year wanting to deliver to everyone here. The first one that tried delivering was a failure. But the second stuck for several years. I want to say we had 10-15 share boxes delivered per week. They also offered egg and meat shares.

I had friends with a struggling CSA jump on the newest craze - farm to market dinners. That seems to be where the $$$ is these days. But it's more regulation/work than a CSA too.
 

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Hello,
I feel increasing competition among CSA and have been wanting to start one myself on my farm but am concerned about the competition. I am trying to make my farm stand out a lot more by emphasizing crops grown sustainably from a net-zero zero-waste farm although I am wondering if this is really a major appeal to the rest of my community. I feel as though a major factor is the distance of the CSA to my local community that makes the biggest difference in the market. Maybe it is the local culture.
This is a poll that was done to assess that factors that influence CSA and after taking it the results are quite telling. The poll can be taken here where you can see the results after.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe8IhAlLpGaRgU1yZN6Gn28a3jLAEO-EFMbs5FkoDryNbekTw/viewform?...

I am wondering what other people's opinions are on starting up a CSA.
What is small? The farm or the girl??
My boss is quitting in July and moving to his cabin in Maine. He will be opening Bath Ale Works soon thereafter!
 

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I did a CSA on my farm for a few years and then decided it was easier to just sell my stuff at a farmer’s market. I found it very stressful to deal with CSA customers that have no idea what goes into growing produce. If you have a bad weather year, your yields are not big enough to satisfy everyone. Then you have the ones that don’t like this, don’t like that, can I have more of this, don’t give me any of that.......I’m not saying it can’t be profitable, but it certainly wasn’t what I wanted.
 

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Around here people just want cheap. They don't really care about what it takes( or doesn't take) to grow it.
 

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Cheap does it around here as well. One farm that is successful in this area sells produce, grass fed beef, and eggs from their own farm store. They have both pick your own and pre-picked fruit and vegetables at prices less than the farmer's market. I drive 20 miles every other week during the growing season because their produce is better, cheaper, and more varieties than at the farmer's market 3 miles away. http://www.dentonvalleyfarms.com/farm-store.html
 

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My kids were buying from one of these CSA's last summer and I felt like they were getting royally ripped off. Could have done better at the roadside stands.
 

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Are you growing organic? Do you grow lots of veggies now? How about growing strawberries. Even people in the sticks love those and will buy from anyone.
 

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keep it simple and honest
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I did a CSA for a few years. Teamed up with another local grower and she worked to the south of us so delivered those to one location and the people had to pick up there. My group was mostly in a complex where I went once a week and while there, delivered to that location.
By the two of us working together, we could each do some things the other didn't grow...I had blueberries and plums and she did strawberries. Most other stuff we both raised.
As to people being finicky, before the CSA season began, I sent out a list of probable items that we'd grow, and they could mark the ones they absolutely didn't want. Then made cards for each family's bag, so that each week putting the bags together, we'd not give them something they would just waste. Limited it to two items, and when we filled their bags, we'd give them extras of something else.
We also offered full shares, half shares, and an egg share. When things like kale, rhubarb, asparagus were in the bag, we'd put in recipes sometimes to help them use the items if they weren't that familiar with them.
I also wrote a "newsletter" each week telling them what they were getting, and other tidbits from the "farms."
We delivered on Tuesdays...and then I did a farmers market on Saturdays. That way, there was a place to sell excess stuff, plus things that ripened in between Tuesdays then had a venue to use the excess.
Oh, also had a flower share. Sunflowers were always a big hit. I think we only did flowers (at the same time of produce delivery) every other week.
You must like dealing with the public, but the benefit is you meet a lot of interesting people, and if they like your produce, they will recommend it to friends for the following season. You have to keep people happy to insure the following season's participation as most businesses realize it is easier to keep a customer than it is to get a new one.
It can be fun if you like retailing and talking to people...and, of course, growing.
 

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I have friends who run a CSA...I think that they work very hard and it is difficult for them to make a go of it. One of them works full time and has benefits through a regular job. If not for that, I don't think that they would be able to continue.

However, I think an awful lot depends on where you are, how much it will cost to buy all your supplies and deliver to a pick up point, what the mindset of your local population is in relation to the cost of food and how it is produced.

Best wishes with your endeavors!
 
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