Pastured Pork Marketing - Cultivating a Meat CSA for Wil-Den Family Farms

2004 Annual Report for ONE04-019

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2004: $10,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2005
Region: Northeast
State: Pennsylvania
Project Leader:
David Eson
PA Association for Sustainable Agriculture

Pastured Pork Marketing - Cultivating a Meat CSA for Wil-Den Family Farms


Over a 16-month period, Wil-Den Family Farms, producers of “Fresh Air Pork”, and PASA will work together to develop a community supported agriculture (CSA) project for Wil-Den’s pastured pork products. The development of the CSA will focus on identifying 50 organizations as potential CSA partners in the western region of Pennsylvania. These organizations will be contacted and asked to host a tasting event and farm presentation. All the organizations contacted will be surveyed and a database will be established with the results. We expect to partner with 20 organizations in the region and give presentations to 500 potential CSA shareholders.

These events and presentations will allow potential customers to taste some of Wil-Den’s “Fresh Air Pork” and learn more about their farming operation. Participants at the meeting will be asked to signup for the CSA and will be surveyed to determine their preferences for pork cuts, CSA share size, delivery and/or pick-up preferences. After all 20 presentations are completed, we estimate that 100 families will become shareholders and buy an annual $600 share in the farm.

Outreach to other farmers will take place at PASA’s annual Farming for the Future Conference, field days, website, and newsletter Passages; regional farming publications and papers; the Small Farm Success Project (USDA-IFAFS) website, Rodale Institute’s New Farm website; and Pennsylvania annual farm events.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Performance target: Of the 50 organizations and 500 customers who learn about the project, 20 organizations will become project partners and 100 families will become shareholders and purchase an annual $600 CSA share.

Milestone 1: Fifty organizations will learn about the project through phone calls, presentations, and newsletters;

Milestone 2: Twenty organizations will agree to host a farm presentation and advertise the event to their employees, members, and customers;

Milestone 3: Five hundred people will attend the farm presentations and taste Wil-Den Family Farms’ pork products;

Milestone 4: 100 families will become CSA members and purchase an annual $600 CSA share.


From May to June 2004, PASA and Wil-Den Family Farms generated a list of individuals and organizations to contact. By June 2004, the partners identified a list of 50 organizations to contact, developed surveys to use while contacting potential business partners and determining customers’ preferences, and designed marketing materials to use during the presentations.

The most noteworthy development was the customer brochure highlighting the purchasing options. Customers could choose from a full share at $67.00 per month, a half share at $34.00 per month, or a sausage share at $34.00 per month. The full share contains 15 to 16 pounds of meat and includes bone-in center-cut chops, regular bacon, cottage bacon, ground pork, bulk breakfast sausage, bulk sweet Italian sausage, and a semi-boneless ham slice. The half share contains seven to eight pounds of meat and includes the same items listed in the full share. The sausage share contains 10 pounds of meat and allows the customer to choose from the following options: ground pork, bulk breakfast sausage, bulk sweet Italian sausage, and bulk hot Italian sausage. Once a customer has purchased a full, half, or sausage share, he or she may purchase any item from the Ala Carte menu. Those items include the items above plus another 19 other items.

Between July and December 2004, the partners gave five presentations. The presentations were given to a private community association, a manufacturing plant, members of a vegetable CSA farm, a business district association meeting, and a catholic convent. The number of attendees at each meeting was 10, 60, 40, 20, and 80 respectively. As of December 2004, a total of 210 potential customers have been reached.

Wil-Den Family Farms has been delivering CSA shares to 20 customers at the manufacturing plant, 13 customers at the CSA farm, and 4 customers from the business district association. This is a total of 37 customers purchasing CSA shares. One customer is purchasing a full share at $67 per month while the remaining 36 customers are purchasing sausage shares at $34 per month. The Ala Carte menu seems to be a benefit to over 30 percent of the customers. There have been 12 customers who use this menu to consistently add extra pork to their CSA order. Instead of purchasing a CSA share, the Felician Sisters will take delivery of their first whole hog in January 2005. This will be an estimated $320 purchase and the frequency of their purchasing has yet to be determined.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

During 2004, the project has impacted farmers, businesses, civic groups, and the general public. Farmers in western Pennsylvania have been impacted in two ways. First, at least five farmers are considering adding meat to their current CSA operation. Two are considering raising pastured meat while the other three will be looking to other local farms for their meat supply. Second, two livestock owners are considering adding a CSA to their direct marketing strategy.

Businesses who are interested in this project have shown a commitment to employee health and regional sustainability. Prior to becoming a partner to the project, one business was concerned about employee health care costs and overall employee health. The other business was concerned about finding quality food products to prepare and serve to its client. The major impact for both businesses has been their acknowledgement that local farm products can be a high quality product and affordably priced. Although both businesses have seen the immediate impact of the high quality products through the presentations, a longer term impact will be the improvement of employee health.

The civic organizations and general public, like the businesses, had a lot to learn about local food products. The major impact on these last two groups was also their acknowledgement that local farm products can be a high quality product and affordably priced. Whether their motivation was to support another local business, improve their nutrition by purchasing a pork product low in fat, without MSG or preservatives, eat meat from animals raised in a humane way, or just buy a great tasting product, they all purchased the products because they were educated about the product, the farm, and the farmers.


Bill and Denise Brownlee
Wil-Den Family Farms
195 Limber Rd.
Jackson Center, PA 16133
Office Phone: 8147867438