Information for CSAs
I visit ATTRAÂs website from time to time, but hadnÂt there in a while. (No, I donÂt know why their acronym Â ATTRA Â doesnÂt match their name National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service). This past week I found a new article (2006) that directly spoke to many of the issues we talked about in our past thread concerning CSAs.
The article is a compilation of several surveys/studies of both CSA farmers and participants. One study found that the expectation of CSA farmers was different from that of the participants, particularly regarding the "community" part of the philosophy. In the articleÂs words: "Shareholders (members) did not find the social and aesthetic meaning in the CSA system that the investigator did, but viewed it primarily as a source of fresh produce." Moreover, most of the people who said before the season began that they wanted to get involved in the farm never actually made it out to the farm.
Three other interesting statements in the article peaked my interest:
a)"participants often feel that there is too much produce, too much food preparation time, and lack of product choice"
b) "share prices should be increased to provide a better return to the farmer."
c) hearing about the CSA through word-of-mouth increases membership probability, while posters and flyers have an insignificant impact.
Finally, the article offered two resources for software for CSA management. One seems to be defunct and the site cannot be accessed, but the other can: http://www.back40books.com/get_list_1054.htm
The description reads: Market Farm Forms by Marcie Rosenzweig. Contains computer spreadsheet templates for planning and organizing information on diversified market farms. This software program will help you in planning crops and budgets, order seed and soil amendments, grow transplants, project yields and income, and then track what really happens against your projections.
I think the price ($55.00) is a little steep, but I am toying with the idea of buying it Â maybe as a Christmas present to myself. Has anybody out there seen or used it? Is it worthwhile? I play with Excel all the time and have set up some management stuff for my CSA in it, but am intrigued that there may be more or better stuff out there.