Monday, April 28, 2008

Organic Food with Community Support

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

4/23/08

For more information contact:

North Central Region – Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program

(402) 472-7081

www.sare.org/ncrsare

ncrsare@umn.edu

Organic Food with Community Support

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) ventures are relatively new in the United States, and not much is known about designing them for rural areas. That is until now.

Thanks to a North Central Region – Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (NCR-SARE) grant, Michael Hollcraft of New Carlisle, Indiana plans to test develop an organic CSA marketing model that is convenient for rural consumers and profitable for farmers.

CSAs allow members of the community to become shareholders in a farming operation in return for fresh produce. This provides fresh local food for the shareholder and helps the farmer cover the upfront production expenses. Shareholders also help share the risks of farming when weather or other difficulties arise.

Hollcraft will use his sustainable agriculture grant to explore the best way to operate an organic CSA in a rural community. He will conduct market research to determine consumer food preferences and price points, which membership options work best, and customers’ willingness to use the Internet for membership payments and placing orders.

For more information or to participate in the upcoming CSA Marketing Survey, you may contact Michael Hollcraft at SundanceFarmsCSA@live.com and/or (574) 993-3008.

Hollcraft plans to look at other CSA operations to determine which practices work well, and how he can improve upon them. He also plans to do a literature search to uncover Best Practices for creating a profitable, organic CSA. Hollcraft explains that a Best Practice is a technique or practice that, through experience and research, has been proven to reliably lead to a desired result.

Once the research is done, Hollcraft will put together fact sheets that can be used by other producers who are facing the same marketing problems he faces. He will also offer to share his expertise on the subject through workshops and Extension events.

Research results of all past NCR-SARE funded projects can be reviewed on the national SARE web site located at http://www.sare.org by clicking on the Project Reports tab. For individuals looking to do their own on-farm research projects, more information is available at the North Central Region web site located at http://www.sare.org/ncrsare.

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