Friday, March 21, 2008

Once again--What Makes a Good CSA?

I posted my question about what makes a good CSA on the Local Harvest forum-- got a thoughtful reply from Walter Haugen of F.A. Farm near Ferndale. He gave me permission to repost it here:

Since I have a CSA share program and am just up the road from you, outside Ferndale, my views are obviously biased. However, here goes. Even though I use organic practices, I don't market as organic because I think certification is bosh. As Eliot Coleman says, "Your best guarantee of safe food is to know the first name of the farmer who grew it." I also think it is important to do as much by hand and I don't even own a tractor - I have a BCS tiller and two smaller units - lower carbon and calorie footprints.

I give vacation extensions so people don't lose their weekly box when they go on vacation. I don't mind selling vegetables right up to Thanksgiving as I did last year. I only have on-farm pickup at the moment, but if I sell enough Bellingham shares I will do a single dropoff one day a week. The Local Farm Exchange (LFE) stand down on Railroad Ave. is a good dropoff point, but there is a little bit of confusion now as to how it will be run. Hopefully it will be sorted out by June.

I encourage farm drop-in visits, as I am always looking for an excuse to get off my hands and knees in the dirt. Another good idea is to use Farm Bucks - this idea was pioneered around here by Mike from K&M, so I want to give credit to him. Farm Bucks are a good way to involve people who have cashflow problems and only want the equivalent of a half-share. I find that half-shares take more energy than full shares because they break your rhythm on box-filling day. Full shares plus Farm Bucks seems a good compromise to me. I am also defining my niche more narrowly and have more of a political component in my flyer and FAQ's. Those are all things I think are important and I could go ad nauseum, but I won't.

Haugen is also an initiator of the Ferndale Farmers Market, set to open in May. To read a profile of him and his farm, and the long process of getting the farmers market going, check out the Ferndale Record Journal--

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