Multi-farm CSA: A Group Marketing Initiative for Rural Northern Michigan

2000 Annual Report for FNC00-292

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2000: $14,890.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2002
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $12,097.00
Region: North Central
State: Michigan
Project Coordinator:

Multi-farm CSA: A Group Marketing Initiative for Rural Northern Michigan


Community Supported Agriculture programs, or CSAs, present new marketing strategies to small farmers to increase viability of family farming.

CSAs work without a pricing, payment, delivery, or marketing system, so coordinators often have difficulty cultivating interested producers. However, CSA programs are usually very successful.

Objective: To develop a multi-farm CSA to broaden the product line and, subsequently, the customer base.

The producer hired a coordinator to introduce and implement the CSA concept into area agricultural operations. This person also was responsible for organizing meetings, researching other multi-farm CSAs, and marketing the CSA concept to consumers. This person has background experience with successful multi-farm CSA coordination.

Results: Fourteen farms participated in the multi-farm CSA, representing fresh vegetables, pasture-raised broilers, raspberries, fresh-cut flowers, sweet corn, beef, pork, lamb, veal, turkeys, honey, eggs, rainbow trout, rabbit, milk, cream, ice cream, ground beef, breads and grains, shitake mushrooms, and asparagus.

Nearly 80 people attended the first public informational meeting, where consumers met the producers, tasted food samples, and signed up for shares. The CSA coordinated several other successful sessions promoting local foods.

Despite a poor growing season, overall surveyed responses from consumers are positive, and supportive of a repeat year. Because of a busy fall season, evaluation of participating farmers failed. Some farmers quit the CSA, but others joined. Our product line plans to gain 10 more shares.