I am so grateful to have some time on this beautiful sunny morning to send a message out to you all about some seriously awesome stuff. Over the past few months, there’s been a lot going on behind the scenes of the CSA world that Second Wind has been lucky enough to be part of! Apologies in advance….there are no fun pictures!
FOOD ACCESS PROGRAMMING
Second Wind has been selected along with 4 other Hudson Valley CSAs to participate in a grant-funded program through GLYNWOOD that offers members the opportunity to pay weekly installments on their share using SNAP benefits.
This grant will pay the farmers up-front for the full cost of a share at the beginning of the season (this takes the pressure and risk out of the equation for the farmer), the CSA member pays the farmer a weekly amount using SNAP benefits by swiping their card at pick-up and then the farmer repays the grant money at a 70% rate at the end of the season. This model of granting is called a revolving fund – as the money is eventually returned to the source, providing sustainability to the programming it supports!
This project is amazing on so many levels but I’d love to speak to the opportunity it is giving to us as a small farm supported by the energy and resources of only two people. These factors of limited people power and money can be really crushing to folks who came to the world of farming with a food and social justice driven mission. That is why I came to this work – a fact you might not know because since I’ve been learning how to farm, all I’ve had the time and energy to do is just that! Creating and implementing programs that do this work requires time for assessing need, creating partnerships, outreach efforts, and often times fundraising (it’s basically another job). It’s also vital for the farm doing this work to have the financial stability to support any risk it might involve – something it can take many years to achieve. This why we mostly see non-profit farms leading the way in this work – which is great, as they have been designed for it! All of this to say, implementing this type of program has been on my list of farm goals for a long time and I had come to terms with the fact that it might take a while for us to get there, but with the support of this programming we are grateful to say it’s something we are partially checking off our list (because, there is always so much more we can do on this front!)
If you know anyone who might be interested in using SNAP to buy a CSA this season please share this opportunity with them and encourage them to reach out to me!
CSA COST COMPARISON RESEARCH
The Hudson Valley CSA Coalition reached out to me last spring about some data they were trying to collect. They were asking me to share with them what our CSA held each week. After seeing what was in our share they went to the grocery store (Hannaford) tried to recreate our share from using the lowest cost conventional produce available – tallying the total each week. At the end of the season they compared the totals combined with the price of our share. These are the resutls:
- 23 Weeks SECOND WIND ORGANIC NO TILL veggies at CSA MAX PRICE: $800
- 23 Weeks SECOND WIND ORGANIC NO TILL veggies at CSA MEDIAN PRICE: $650.00
- 23 Weeks HANNAFORD CONVENTIONAL veggie equivalents: $832.75
- 23 Weeks SECOND WIND ORGANIC NO TILL veggies at FARMER’S MARKET COST: $2,623.74
Some thoughts on these numbers….
We all know that y’all got A LOT of food last season but, DANG – these numbers even shocked us!
These numbers show that most people saved about 25% on produce by being Second Wind CSA members over shopping at Hannaford and 75% being members over buying our produce at a Farmer’s Market. Even members who paid at full-cost are paying less than what you’d pay at the store for CONVENTIONAL veggies.
The main takeaways for us here:
- WOW we had a super productive season and our shares are giant – maybe we can feed more people!
- The marketplace value of food is shocking – look at that price differential between grocery store produce and farmer’s market veggies! While I, of course, understand affordable food is SO important AND that Farmer’s Market pricing seems high- it’s the price at which farmer’s value themselves and their work (their lives really!)
BIG THANKS to The Hudson Valley CSA Coalition for doing this amazing and important research that us farmer’s just can’t squeeze in. I think it speaks volumes to the people out there thinking about becoming members and certainly puts a penny (AT LEAST) in our jar for the ongoing conversation of CSA as a viable, usable and valued model for folks!
If you made it this far….thanks for taking the time to read my nerdy post about farmy things not so relevant to dirt and veggies but so so important in the work that we do. If you have any thoughts on this work I’d love to hear it – drop me a line!
Sending lots of love and sunny thoughts!
Leslie and Anthony
P.S. We’re half way to our share goal for the season!