Piloting a Year-round Sliding-scale CSA and Unified Online Management System to Improve Food Access

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2022: $22,275.00
Projected End Date: 05/01/2023
Grant Recipient: Bread and Butter Farm
Region: Northeast
State: Vermont
Project Leader:
Brandon Bless
Bread and Butter Farm


Not commodity specific


  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, business planning, community-supported agriculture, financial management, market study, marketing management
  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems, social capital

    Proposal summary:

    We will launch a Sliding Scale CSA with no minimum payment requirement. We will create a guide (informed by organizations who are already doing this work), based on income and life-circumstances, to help members decide how much to pay for a CSA share. This model will be equity based and anti-racist. Through the sliding scale model, we hope to eliminate the stigma that comes with having to apply for a subsidy or NOFA-funded CSA share. A unified online system alongside a sliding scale model will streamline payment and record keeping so BBF is no longer juggling payment plans, solidarity shares, donations, outside funding for individual CSA shares, etc. This will also make the CSA more accessible to customers who can’t afford the entire upfront cost as they can choose their payment plan which will be managed automatically by the online system, and members no longer will be spending mental energy to keep track of how much money they owe. BBF will establish a drop off point in our South Burlington community, to make Bread and Butter food accessible to folks who do not have a vehicle to get to the farm. We are in conversation to secure a publicly accessible drop off point. Ultimately our project will provide a pilot model for how other for=profit farms throughout our region and beyond can develop sliding scale and food access programs within their existing CSA and market offerings, while maintaining profitability for the farm.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1) Manage a unified online members portal, sales, and inventory system. This unified system will allow us to track, manage, and sync all of our online and in-person sales and inventory for all of our Markets enterprises. Once fully employed, we expect this system alone will save 5-10 hours a week of farmer time.

    2) Pilot a sliding scale year-round CSA membership program. Members may discretely self-select an affordable share price and payment frequency from monthly to annual to access the same high quality food we serve to all. We will show that a sliding scale CSA membership can simultaneously and synergistically meet both the local community's food needs and farm business profitability.

    3) Partner with a local organization to serve as a satellite CSA distribution site for convenient food access to those members who do not currently have reliable transportation to our on-farm CSA distribution location and dates.

    4) Share CSA member feedback and farm financials. Members can opt into a continuous feedback dialogue throughout the project duration whereby they contribute feedback for improvement of our CSA program. We see this level of CSA member engagement as the next evolution of CSA members services.

    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.