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