After posting on Instagram about Cluck It Farm who delivers our CSA share every Friday, I had a ton of questions about what a CSA is. I’d dreamed of buying into a CSA farm share for a few years. When we moved to Las Vegas and realized that the growing season never really ended and that California (the nation’s leader in agricultural production) was a close neighbor, I was pretty hopeful that we would be able to finally be able to support community agriculture and get our hands on some amazing local food. The best part, it’s so much easier to avoid excess packaging when you have a relationship with the people who grow your food. We’re able to provide cloth bags or return any packaging for reuse.
I asked Amanda from the small organic urban farm, Cluck it Farm if she would explain what CSA means and it works.
What is a CSA?
Community Supported Agriculture
According to Wikipedia, a CSA model is, “a system that connects the producer and consumers within the food system more closely by allowing the consumer to subscribe to the harvest of a certain farm or group of farms. It is an alternative socio-economic model of agriculture and food distribution that allows the producer and consumer to share the risks of farming.”
There are plenty of versions of a CSA out there and it really depends on the farm that is offering the program. In the broadest of terms, a member would buy into the season up front and in turn, the farmer would provide a weekly or monthly “share” of produce from the farm. The seasons vary in length but the common commitment is usually 12 to 24 weeks. Traditionally, the member would also share in the deficits of the farm. For example, if a hail storm comes in and destroys a peach crop for the summer, the members would be prepared to just not receive them that season. The member would be assuming a loss as a risk of joining.
How does the CSA model benefit a farmer?
In most CSA models, the member buys into the season ahead of time. For example, a farmer might charge $480 for a full 16-week subscription service for the season. By essentially prepaying for the season and committing to that particular farm, the farmer is able to pay for all the upfront costs of farming for that season. Upfront costs would be seeds, equipment purchases, hiring for labor, compost, and fertilizer, shade cloth or plastic greenhouse coverings, etc. Take it from a farmer – the list is LONG. It takes a lot of money upfront to grow vegetables for the community! By funding the farmer in the front end, the consumer can directly impact the ease of production.
How does the CSA model benefit a member?
When committing to the full season, the member is usually rewarded when yields are high! Personally, when I have a crop that is doing exceptionally well and I’ve got way more than I can actually sell, guess who gets it?! My CSA members! Any farmer would rather see their committed members reap the rewards of good production. My CSA members ALWAYS get first dibs on first of the season crops and excess produce. Often times, the CSA member will receive more value when joining the program than just buying a la carte at a farmers market or farm stand. As a member, you can take pride in being a strong contributor to your local economy and community. Nothing builds a community better than investing in small scale farming and local business. Joining a CSA may look like a small contribution but it will have the biggest impact a single person can make.
How to find a CSA in your area?
If you would like to know how to join a CSA, a google search will be your first option! Once you find a farm with a CSA program be sure to ask questions about the farm to make sure they fit your values. There are all types of farms out there – don’t assume all farmers run according to your standards. In a time when the community is dying, WE can be the change. Join your local CSA this season!
How does the Cluck it Farm CSA Model work?
As I said before, every farm operates its CSA differently. At Cluck it Farm, we have more of a hybrid model – think subscription box.
- Each season runs 16 weeks and boxes are delivered to the members home every Friday. Farm stand picks up on Saturdays from 8am to 12pm is also available. There is no charge for delivery but anyone that comes to pick up from the stand gets to pick up a bonus item (something under $5).
- Members can choose to pay for the season up front ($480 for half share or $800 for full share) OR can utilize the payment plan. If the payment plan is chosen there is an $80 deposit to hold the member’s place. Weekly payments are automatically withdrawn the week the season starts ($25 for half share and $45 for full share)
- Seeing as Cluck it Farm is farming on a small scale urban lot, We do have great relationships with other small farms that meet our standards. I can import fruit and baked goods this way. Occasionally members will receive locally grown fruit and sourdough bread made by Desert Bread. Members love the versatility!
- Every Wednesday I send out an email with all the items that will be in the Friday (delivered) or Saturday (farm pick up) box. This allows the members to utilize the online store to add a la carte items if they choose to do so! All Cluck it Farm CSA members receive a 10% discount on all a la carte items. These items will be placed in the box for pick up or delivery.
- We also offer other member benefits which include a farm lunch, CSA member harvest days, and first dibs on future season sign-ups. As mentioned before, members get to benefit from overproduction and receive the first harvest on all crops.
Do you buy into a CSA share or have plans to? I know we’ve been extremely happy with our experience and cannot wait for the Fall season.
About Cluck it Farm
Amanda Yeckel, a long time resident of Las Vegas, Nevada is the owner and operator of Cluck it Farm. Located in northwest Las Vegas, the urban farm sits on 1 acre in a residential neighborhood. Our produce is not sprayed with pesticides or herbicides and is cultivated without the use of tractors. We practice regenerative farming – leaving the land better than when we found it. The garden plot is 5000 sqft and will be expanded to 10,000 sqft be the end of the summer. The challenge we face is making it all work on an urban scale – something we work on every day! The only inputs on the farm are compost and certified organic fertilizers. We are currently experimenting with clover as ground cover to fix nitrogen in the soil and give our chickens nutritional pasture to graze. We also care for over 200 laying hens and a goat named Waffles.
You can learn more about Cluck it Farm and sign up for the CSA here. Sign-ups are now live on the website for the fall season which runs August 2nd through November 15th. We expect the season to fill up fast so make sure you don’t wait to reserve your spot!