Expanding on a community-supported market (CSM) pilot program developed in 2006, we aimed to build upon that success and increase revenue for farmers as well as viability for the operation of the program itself.
The CSM is an innovative variation on the CSA model. The shareholders, workplace sites that have a community investment in the Fair Haven Market, buy shares monthly from the market. The shares are made from combined produce from three different farmers at the market and are delivered to the workplaces.
The farmers benefit since the market is located in a low-income neighborhood where the WIC redemption rate of seasonal farmers’ market is very high, but cash is very low. The CSM gives farmers’ more monetary security, thereby making it feasible for them to stay at a lower income market. The Fair Haven Market is one of the only places in the community to access fresh, local, and healthy produce and so it is paramount that farmers are able to stay and sell at the market. The CSM aims to help them do this.
Our first objective was to increase the amount of program income from the CSM. This allows us to defray the cost of personnel and supplies and not rely so heavily on grant funding. In short, program income creates sustainability for the CSM.
We define program income to include the following sources:
* collection of a weekly vendor fee based on vendor sales.
* collection of revenue from bread sold at Fair Haven Market as well as through the CSM
* collection of delivery fees from CSM shareholders
Our target was to increase the program income from $1,186 in 2006 to $3,207 in 2007, an increase of 170%.
Our second objective was to increase the vendor revenue from the CSM to increase the viability of the farmers at the market.
Our target was to increase the vendor revenue from $5,926 in 2006 to $10,000 in 2007, an increase of 68.77%.
Our third objective was to recruit 1 more farmer to the Fair Haven Market. The CSM’s ability was to increase the viability of having more farms at the market which enabled us to attact potential new farms to sell at the market.
The methods used to reach our results were heavily dependent on personnel. The CSM program director and program assistant were key in making the components of the project work. The following is a synopsis of the methods used in the program:
* Develop marketing and sign up materials for CSM worksites.
* Advertise and hold informational meetings at potential shareholder sites.
* Hold informational meetings with farmers about the potential number of shares for season.
* Finalize number of shares on a monthly basis and contact farmers for produce available.
* Create newsletter with current program information on a weekly basis.
* Plan for farm and market visits, submit press releases.
* Send out reminders for monthly share subscriptions.
* Analyze market’s economic data.
The Fair Haven Community Supported Market program income for 2007 was $2,388.70, just short of our projected target of $3,207. This represents an increase of 101% from 2006 figures and we consider it a success and evidence that we can grow this number in upcoming seasons.
The farmers that participated in the Fair Haven Community Supported Market generated an income of $7,740 between three of them. This is also short of our projected $10,000. However, this was an increase of 31% from 2006 figures and we also consider this a success and evidence that we can continue to increase farmer income in upcoming seasons.
The Fair Haven Farmers’ Market recruited not just one new vendor, but two. One farm and one prepared food vendor joined us in the 2007 season and helped to create a more energetic and profitable market.
The impact of all of these outcomes is that the Fair Haven market can continue its smart growth. By adding more program income we are able to continue the CSM. By continuing the CSM we are able to increase farm revenue and ability to stay at the market. By increasing farm revenue we are helping to increase program revenue. With the CSM we are reaching out into the community, gaining new customers and furthering the reach of local food into the New Haven urban center. As a result of this, we think there is certainly an expandable circle of economic growth here that can continue for years to come, which is the impact we hoped to have.
Education & Outreach Activities and Participation Summary
Nicole Berube, Program Director at CitySeed and manager of the CSM program presented the at the Food Project’s “Farming the City” Conference in the spring of 2007. A PowerPoint presentation was given to a group of approximately 20 people.
The CSM was also featured in the Fall 2007 issue of “Edible Nutmeg” in Connecticut. The Taking the Initiative article, “Have Tomato, Will Travel – A Farmers’ Market Comes to You,” highlights the CSM (among other programs in Connecticut) that have created innovative ways to bring farmers’ market produce to more people.
Nicole and CitySeed’s Executive Director Jennifer McTiernan will be presenting information on the CSM program at the 2008 CT NOFA “Cultivating an Organic Connecticut Conference” in March as well as at the interstate NOFA August conference in summer 2008 in Amherst, MA.
As previously mentioned in other sections, our accomplishments were clear:
* we increased program revenue by 101%
* we increased farmers’ revenue by 31%
* we increased the number of vendors selling at the market from 3 to 5.
* Most importantly, by making this program viable during the 2007 market season, we were able to secure funding from two local funding sources (including the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven) to expand the program to include subsidized shares in the 2008 season. Without SARE’s infusion of funding, we would not have been in a position to grow the program in 2008!
These accomplishments are all dependent on one another, which makes the CSM model so unique. This program increases farm viability, program sustainability, and access to fresh, local and healthy food in a continuous circle. The seed money provided by this grant will be the catalyst for a positive chain of events that we hope will last for years to come.
Given the success of the 2007 season and the growing interest in the CSM delivery model in the community, we decided to expand the CSM in 2008 to include subsidized and delivered shares for seniors, via a $9,000 grant from the Trustees of the Center Church Home, as well as funds for subsidizing shares in the amount of $3,400 from the Community Foundation. We also anticipate additional funding from the City of New Haven’s CDBG program as well to help support this effort and cover the cost of the subsidy (based on what we have been funded in past years). These subsidized shares will reach seniors and others who are nutritionally at-risk who are currently receiving WIC coupons and or EBT/Food Stamps.
The CSM is becoming a model program, thanks in large part to seed funding from SARE and other grantors, and we are eager to share our experiences and information to anyone interested in starting one at their market. We also continue to be interested in other existing models in the country and hope to benefit from their experiences as well.