Project Type: Research and Education
Year Awarded: 2006
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Funds Awarded: $151,655.00
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $74,200.00
CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farms now supply close to one percent of the families in Maine with their summer produce. Many potential consumers are aware of the concept, but don’t have direct connections with a farmer who might supply them with a share. This project will work on both sides of that equation. One track will help existing and new CSA farms to get the skills they need to supply the already interested consumer base. The second will identify groups of consumers, particularly through already existing institutions like churches, to expand the customer base for CSAs by fifty percent over the next three years. This project is an outgrowth of a continuing discussion among the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA), the Maine Council of Churches, the Eat Local Foods Coalition, many CSA farmers, and Common Good Ventures. Most Maine CSA farms are organic farmers, and MOFGA has organized the only statewide conference to date involving CSAs. That event, in the spring of 2004, drew over 120 farmers, including most of the CSA farms in Maine. The Maine Council of Churches, through its ‘Earth Care Teams’, has been identifying churches that have an interest in good environmental practices, including building connections with local farmers. The Eat Local Foods Coalition is a statewide organization that brings together many different partners to discuss ways to promote local food consumption, with a major emphasis on helping Maine’s news media become more aware of story possibilities and ways that they can be useful in helping local farmers with their marketing. Most of the State’s 60 plus CSAs already are connected with MOFGA through our ongoing educational programming. Finally, Common Good Ventures is a non-profit which provides technical assistance to other non-profits on business planning and related activities. This project will be coordinated through MOFGA with close coordination with these partners and the Maine Department of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Resources. (The Department coordinates the closely-related Senior Share program, a $100 a year share program which reaches 6,000 low income Maine seniors. Many of the 60 CSA farms supply the Senior Share program; some of the Senior Share farmers are potential new suppliers to the more traditional CSA model.)
Performance targets from proposal:
By the Spring of 2009, at least twenty of Maine’s sixty existing CSA farms and twenty additional farms will expand their shares and product availability to reach an additional 1250 families.