Last week I joined an online seminar sponsored by Practical Farmers of Iowa which may be of interest to many of you. Long-time farmer with oldschool US CSA movement cred, Elizabeth Henderson, spoke about her years in sustainable ag and, more pointedly, about CSA core groups. A core group is a body of CSA members who agree to take on more tasks beyond lending a hand on the farm. Core group does not include the entire CSA membership but usually consists of a handful of people (in small CSAs) who have a closer relationship with the farmer and/or the farmed land. Core groups usually take on tasks like making decisions on the cost of CSA shares, signing up members, delivering produce, writing/editing newsletters, sourcing other goods that the membership wants, etc. I was impressed with Henderson's core group and the responsibilities they took on in service to sustainable and equitable ag. They handled all of the distribution of the farm's produce, a great deal of the administration, and other organizational tasks, while also working on the farm some. One person in her core group even sourced organic wine and sustainably produced cheese for the CSA members' boxes! Her core group also served as the farm's "bank." And they were crucial in creating a land trust arrangement for the farm that leased the land back to the farmers on very generous terms. It boggles my mind a bit, but just imagine: a CSA relationship where the farmers just stay on the farm and produce the food, while the core group gets the food to the membership, the market, and wherever else it needs to go in the community.
Here's the link to the PFI "farminar" page: http://practicalfarmers.org/farminar/index.html. Choose the "CSA Members as Partners" link. Enjoy! For those who watch the webinar, I hope you will post your reactions to it here.
Also, you might notice that Derek was a speaker for the March 8th farminar on "Building Wholesale Relationships." Pretty cool talk!