Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My CSA Project

For a long time I have been trying to figure out how to make money from my garden. Eventually my plan was to have the kids help and earn money for college. My first though was to do farmer's markets. After researching a bit I decided that I did not want to deal with all the regulations and have to spend a day sitting there each week. My next thought was to do a road side stand. After all, we plant way more sweet corn then we will ever use. Then I looked around. There are people selling sweet corn and other veggies up and down our road. There is too much competition and little that can be done to differentiate our corn from the neighbors.

Then, last summer I stumbled upon the concept of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). CSAs are designed to ensure a local food source and connections between people who grow and buy food. This concept guarantees a market before the crop is planted and each customer receives a half bushel basket to a bushel basket of fresh fruits and/ or vegetables every week or every other week according to the subscription. This was perfect!

I decided to start small this year. I donated an every other week subscription to my sister's foster parent organization's auction fundraiser. So far it has gone better than I could have ever expected. My recipient has gotten baskets with lettuce, spinach, radishes, green onions, onions, red potatoes, Yukon potatoes, cabbage, green beans, yellow wax beans, jalapeno peppers, mixed hot peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, slicing tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, squash, herbs, and sweet corn. When they are ready, she will also receive Roma tomatoes, honeydew, cantaloupe, watermelon, and pie pumpkins.

Along with the basket, my customer also takes on some of the risk of unpredictable weather, pest damage and disease . For example, this summer has been extremely cool. Without the warm weather to push them toward maturity, the melons are very far behind. If we experience a frost in early September, my customer may not enjoy melons this season.

Also, not using pesticides to control insects or diseases means some of the produce will have visible insect damage. In most cases, the ‘nibbles’ are just cosmetic and do not harm the plant. You can eat the scarring or eat around it. Sometimes this damage is an entry point for diseases that can kill the entire plant.

This test has been so successful that I now have five people wanting information for next season. As I look at my priorities, my increase in hours at my 'real job', and all the running around I do for the kiddos, I'm a bit terrified. How much more can I take on before I reach a breaking point?

I'm definitely getting a housekeeper.

1 comment:

  1. That is awesome! And you know my vote......LET SOMEONE ELSE CLEAN THE HOUSE!