BACK HOME FARM CSA
Introduction to Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, is a relatively new concept in American farming. In short, CSA provides a way for a local community to support a farm operation through purchase of regularly delivered produce and/or participation in farm activities (such as harvesting, planting, etc.). In its simplest terms, members (or “share-holders”) of the farm pledge in advance to cover the costs of farm operations for the coming year. In return, the share-holders receive “shares” in the farm’s harvest throughout the harvest season, plus the unique ability to personally know and connect with the farmer and land from where their food originates.
The CSA concept provides a unique opportunity for those who are interested in receiving the highest quality fruits and vegetables that are typically harvested within 24 hours or less of delivery (never more than 5 days in refrigerated storage). Customers sign-up before the beginning of the planting season and agree to purchase either a weekly or bi-weekly “share” of produce, for a set number of weeks during the harvest season. Produce variety and quantities differ depending upon the season and field conditions; although a certain amount of produce is expected each delivery date. In return, the “share-holder” assumes some of the risk of the harvest- should certain crops fail or be less productive, the share-holder understands that they will not receive as high a quantity for that crop. On the other hand, “bumper crops” result in the share-holder receiving an excess of that particular crop. CSAs provide a welcome opportunity for the farmer to know, ahead of time, the amount of seed, fertilizer, and other up-front costs that are necessary to support the CSA for the coming season, thus reducing waste and providing for more efficient operations.
Community is the key word in CSA.
This concept welcomes participation between the farmer and the share-holders- whether through regular social network/email exchange about the current farm activities, newsletters that provide updates and announcements, distribution of produce recipes, or through hands-on participation (that often results in reduced CSA share costs).
Is a CSA Right For Me?
Before making the decision to join the Back Home CSA, it is important to determine if the CSA option is right for you. CSAs are generally more suited to those who value high quality produce and consume a variety of produce on a regular basis. CSA participants should be aware that the produce availability is largely dependent on the season, with produce varieties changing as the seasons change. CSAs are also a preferred option for those who favor small-scale, sustainable farms over the larger agri-business operations. Those who value organically grown fruits and vegetables may also consider Back Home Farm CSA as we strive to utilize organic methods in our farm operations.
How Often Do I Receive My Share?
Back Home Farm CSA offers weekly delivery of its shares. In contract to last year, this harvest season (2013) is expected to begin April 8th and continue through August 2nd (approximately 18 weeks). Both full and half shares will be delivered weekly this year. Folks who sign up for the spring/summer season will also be invited to participate in a fall CSA as well.
Where And When Will My Shares Be Delivered?
Last year, Alabama deliveries were located in Sylacauga, Chelsea, Inverness, and Vestavia. This year, we hope to add an Alabaster/Helena and an Auburn location. Delivery times will be determined after registration has closed. Back Home Farm will attempt to provide delivery times that are convenient for the majority of share-holders and we will attempt to keep the times established during the 2012 season.
How Much Food and What Types of Food are in a Share?
A typical full share includes approximately ½ bushel worth of produce. A 1/2 share will consist of 1/4 bushel of produce. A typical share early in the season would include items such as a variety of lettuce and other greens (mesculun, cabbage, or turnip/collards), carrots, onions, potatoes, broccoli, and snap peas (actual varieties may change from year to year). Mid-summer shares would include items such as tomatoes, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, corn, field peas, beans, and a watermelon or cantaloupe. Late season items may include okra, peppers, beans, tomatoes, and pumpkins. Back Home Farm plants between 25 and 35 varieties of produce for the CSA and attempts to provide a minimum of 4 different items in each box per week. However, during the peak of harvest, as many as 12 different items may be present in your box.
Can I Customize My Order?
Yes! We and our children have things we really like and things we cannot eat, so we expect that some customization to your order may be necessary. However, if you only eat one or two types of vegetables, or are unwilling to try something new or different, then the CSA may not be right for you!
How Much Does It Cost?
Costs for the 2013 season:
1 Share - $504 ($28/week); Returning customers- $450 ($25/week)
½ Share - $324 ($18/week)
Where Do I Register?
***Registration for the 2013 Back Home Farm CSA beginsFebruary 1, 2013, and has now been extended until April 15, 2013. The number of Shares are limited so register as early as possible!***