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Community Supported Agriculture

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NACAA poster 2016 - CSA

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Community Supported Agriculture

  1. 1. Community Supported Agriculture Reynolds-Allie, K.1, Infante-Casella, M.2, Bamka, W.3, Komar, S. 4 , Schilling, B. 5, Melendez, M.6 1Agricultural Agent/Assistant Professor, Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station Cooperative Extension, Belvidere, NJ, 07823 2Agricultural Agent/Associate Professor, Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station Cooperative Extension, Clayton, NJ, 08312 3Agricultural Agent/Associate Professor, Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station Cooperative Extension, Westampton, NJ, 08060 4Agricultural Agent/Associate Professor, Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station Cooperative Extension, Newton, NJ, 07860 5Extension Specialist in Agricultural Policy, Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, New Brunswick, NJ, 08901 6Extension Agent/Assistant Professor, Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, Trenton, NJ, 08648 Abstract: Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is not a new marketing concept in the U.S. However, more farmers are taking advantage of this marketing strategy, driven primarily by the increase in the local food movement and consumer demand for fresher, healthier locally grown food. The basic premise of a CSA is mutual risk taking and production support by both consumers and the farmer. In return for their investment or subscription, CSA members receive a portion of the harvest during the growing season (Komar, 2012). This marketing strategy is unique and fits the unique conditions of agriculture in New Jersey. The state is one of the densest population in the country, with only approximately 15% of its land space dedicated to agriculture. The average size of farms in the state is 79 acres, where majority are considered small farms by USDA’s definition. Given this challenge, majority of farmers utilize retail or direct-to-consumer marketing channels. Workshop: Based on producers demand, two CSA workshops were held to provide information on what is becoming a popular direct-to- consumer marketing strategy in NJ. The workshops were attended by a mix of farmers: new/beginning, as well as farmers that has been farming for decades; and farmers who currently has a CSA operation and those looking to start or restart one. The group consisted of a number of young farmers, who are enthusiastic about “new” marketing options for their family farms. Information provided: The intent of the workshop was to provide valuable information for a diverse group of farmers, to utilize in their current or future CSA operation. The team of extension experts presented on a variety of topics, except production practices/strategies. These topics included CSA overview, SWOT Analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats), Marketing strategies to recruit and retain members, Budgets/Share Pricing, Regulations (Right to Farm and Farm Market Assessment) and Food Safety . Survey: An online survey will be sent to all participants of the workshops. The survey will seek information on participants’ knowledge on CSAs before and after the workshop; the number of farmers currently operating CSAs and new knowledge gained that will positively impact their operation; number of participants interested in starting a CSA, and whether or not the information presented was valuable in their decision making; challenges encountered, or perceived challenges; among other general information. A short survey was conducted at the Gloucester County workshop location, to determine the number of acres participants were currently farming, whether they have a CSA operation, and their feedback on the information presented at the workshop Survey results: Approximately 57% of participants farmed 25 acres or less, and only 2 farms were over 100 acres. Only one farm currently has a CSA with 15 members, operating for two years. All other participants indicated they were planning to incorporate this marketing strategy in 2016 or 2017. All participants gave positive feedback on the information presented. Participants said they gained valuable information that will be utilized in their future operation; information that will be used for business planning; gained valuable “Right to Farm”, marketing and budgeting information; among others. Some respondents wanted more “real world” stories or videos of successful operations, information on production, and website hosting and development. “The farm safety and farm evaluation/assessment information was also very helpful” ~Participant Excellent conference” ~ Participant “I'm especially glad you included the legal talk/info- that's something I hadn't heard anything about in other meetings” ~Participant “All materials were useful” ~Participant Conclusion: Based on the positive feedback from participants, the extension team is enthusiastic about hosting more educational events with similar content in the near future. Additionally, to reach other farmers who may be interested, presentations will be posted on the Rutgers Agritourism Training website at http://agritourism.Rutgers.edu.training