Community Supported Agriculture Marketing Program
Our community of Bayview on the Eastern Shore of Virginia is one of the poorest in Virginia, with 85 percent of the 52 family homes lacking indoor plumbing. Our non-profit Bayview Citizens for Social Justice, Inc. was organized in 1992 to empower residents and revitalize the neighborhood. Every adult in the community has participated in planning meetings, self-help workshops and educational training sessions.
As a result of these meetings the residents approved of the idea for a community garden. It was a good idea because in Bayview the food supply is supplemented through a system of sharing among neighbors. Most residents have a strong history in agriculture; knowledge and expertise are present in the community.
The selling of garden products beyond our own community may have real economic potential through local marketing and value-added processing. The Bayview Community Farm project is a top priority for Bayview Citizens for Social Justice, and builds on a strong foundation of local skills, abilities and interests. We have begun to identify needs and have established working partnerships with local farmers and agri-business to contract for services beyond the scope of community labor.
This SARE Producer Grant will be used to help us begin the value-added marketing of our community’s agricultural products. We have measured the economic and market potential of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) local subscription program with the broader surrounding community. We now have a mailing list of over 75 potential customers for a subscription-type program. A review of CSA models was done to help us better understand the options for organization and expansion.
The garden will be managed sustainably, with soil testing guiding our composting system and mulching/cover crop system for soil fertility, weed control and water management. We hope to obtain certification in Virginia’s Organic Certification program, with help from Nature Conservancy staff who have helped other African-American and small scale Eastern Shore growers get certified in the past few years. Our Extension Agent will continue to help with production information and suggestions while local farmers are working as mentors and contractors for tasks requiring large equipment, such as plowing and planting cover crops.