Should I Start a CSA Farm?: An Educational Video Series for Current & Aspiring CSA Farmers

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2019: $26,185.00
Projected End Date: 08/28/2021
Grant Recipient: Raleigh's Hillside Farm
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:
Lauren Rudersdorf
Raleigh's Hillside Farm


  • Vegetables: CSA


  • Education and Training: decision support system, farmer to farmer, mentoring
  • Farm Business Management: business planning, community-supported agriculture, financial management, market study, marketing management, whole farm planning
  • Sustainable Communities: leadership development, quality of life


    Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farmers around the country have observed declining rates of enrollment. Not only are retention rates generally low, CSA participation overall seems to be declining. Founded in the 1980’s, CSA grew slowly until 2010 when the rapid expansion and overuse of the CSA business model (often without true understanding of the concept) led to the current degradation of the movement.

    This project aims to reduce the problem of individual farm failure within the CSA model in order to strengthen CSA more broadly. Through a 12-part video series, beginning and aspiring farmers will be asked to evaluate whether or not CSA is an appropriate business model for them to pursue. Upon viewing this video series, some farmers will move forward with CSA having gained the knowledge to be successful. With increased knowledge of expectations inherent in CSA, these farmers will be more likely to retain members, complete their season and be financially viable in the long-term. Other farmers who view the series will determine the model is not an appropriate fit and position themselves to market their products through different avenues. Both outcomes will maintain, expand and enhance CSA markets in the long-term.

    Since being released in July of 2021, this project has been tremendously well-received across the CSA space. Many CSA experts in our region have shared that it fits a necessary gap in education currently available to farmers. The CSA model continues to increase in popularity among farmers and many are hoping to learn more about what this model entails and if it would be a good fit for their business. Since release (a little over a month ago), 62 people have watched the first video that introduces the series and most other videos have received 30-50 views to date with new views every single day!

    One farmer who viewed the whole series shared, "I watched the whole series and found it very informative. The videos were beautifully produced, and loaded with useful information." Another farmer with moderate experience with CSA shared that our series "did an excellent job of covering the pitfalls"-- a major goal of the project. This same farmer shared that she planned to use the information learned in this video in the next 6 months. Specifically, she will outsource some of the financial work of her business to a financial professional. All in all, feedback has been favorable and we are thrilled to have created a free resource like this for farmers. We cannot wait to see the viewership grow over the next several months and read the feedback other farmers have for us as we dream up new projects.


    Project objectives:

    1. Work with CSA farmers around the Midwest to refine 10 questions aspiring or beginner CSA farmers should ask themselves before getting started.
    2. Develop a curriculum, script and materials for twelve videos with a small group of farmers surrounding these 10 questions.
    3. Collaborate with filmmaker to create twelve 10-minute videos to be uploaded onto YouTube for free access to farmers nationally.
    4. Disseminate and promote videos through social media, relevant networks and listservs for viewership by at least 100 farmers.
    5. Collect survey results from video viewers to measure knowledge gained as well as benefits and impacts to long-term farming success.


    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.