Local Meal Kits: CSA Adaptation for Sustainability

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2019: $27,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/28/2021
Grant Recipient: One Step at a Time Gardens
Region: North Central
State: Iowa
Project Coordinator:
Jan Libbey
One Step at a Time Gardens


  • Agronomic: potatoes
  • Fruits: apples, berries (strawberries)
  • Vegetables: asparagus, beans, beets, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, cucurbits, eggplant, garlic, greens (leafy), greens (lettuces), leeks, onions, peppers, radishes (culinary), sweet corn, tomatoes, turnips
  • Animal Products: honey, meat


  • Farm Business Management: community-supported agriculture, new enterprise development, value added
  • Sustainable Communities: food hubs, values-based supply chains

    Proposal summary:

    Studies (see list below) indicate a nationwide stagnation in CSA development. Some CSA farmers are responding with strategies including on-farm pizza parties and customized boxes. However, few CSAs appear to be responding to the emergence of commercial meal kits. Two North Iowa businesses - North Iowa Fresh, LLC  and Bode's Moonlight Gardens - recognize the need to anticipate this additional dynamic. Working together, these businesses propose to create a series of locally tailored meal kits to compliment their CSA offerings. The commercially available meal kits offer convenience, but they are pricey, generate wasteful packaging, and lack the farm connection. Local meal kits emphasize the environmental and social strengths of CSA model.

    We believe local meal kits are an important economic strategy that will help attract and retain customers. We believe the model we develop will be transferable to other CSA farms in the NC region and will support the sustainability of CSA businesses.

    Studies referenced: USDA Report April 3, 2017; Madison. com, Nov. 21, 2018 - Out of the box: After 25 years, community supported agriculture farms adapt to a changing market; 2015 CSA Farming Annual Report, Small Farm Central; State of CSA, Local Harvest, July 2016

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Research and test two to three commercially available meal kits with a set of criteria including price, taste and packaging. North Iowa Fresh (NIF) & Bode's Moonlight Garden (BMG) subscribers and farmers will be involved.
    2. With the help of a recipe consultant, develop seven to ten Local Meal Kits to compliment each business’s CSA deliveries.
    3. Trial some of the kits using the same analysis as in step 1.
    4. Develop marketing materials to promote these new kits for the 2020 season.
    5. Trial the remaining kits through a hands-on field day event.
    6. Share findings through field day, website, and conference presentations
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.