As the cost of goods and services continues to rise, our current and potential farm members may be wondering: Can I afford a CSA share?
Dan and I think the answer to this question is YES!
How can we say YES without knowing your financial situation?
Let’s dig into this together.
What is a CSA Share Worth?
As discussed in our pre-covid blog post “Which Costs More? Perkins’ CSA vs. Grocery Store”, we believe your CSA share is worth more than you can easily tally in a spreadsheet. Along with receiving organically grown, super-fresh, actually-tasty veggies, you also receive:
- a direct relationship with the farmers growing your food
- ongoing education for how to store and eat your produce
- being part of a community of fellow veggie lovers who provide accountability and support
- direct access to the farm land itself, including pick your own crops and farm trails
- food that you literally can’t find at any other store in our community
I’m sure someone somewhere has placed an actual cash value on each of these things, but, without knowing that, perhaps you can self-assess: How much do I value each of these components?
Can We Afford to Keep Farming?
Dan and I have to ask ourselves the same question of affordability, albeit in a different way. Can we afford to run a CSA farm in rural Indiana, as first generation farmers still paying off the farm?
Each season we farm, we get more accurate data about how much it actually costs us to operate our CSA. Our goal is to treat our now 200-member CSA as a wholesale customer, which means giving our CSA members a significant discount off our farm stand produce prices. This is our third year offering a Summer CSA, with 2020 being a strange one because of COVID. However, after running into unexpected cash flow issues in 2021, we spent some time digging deep into each facet of our farm. We discovered that our Summer CSA discount was so steep we were basically selling our produce at cost.
Would we love to give our produce away? Absolutely! Of course, we can’t do that at this stage of life. We have employees to pay, supplies to purchases, utility and mortgage costs–not to mention providing for our own family’s living expenses.
So what are the new prices for 2022? You can see the prices for each CSA here, with the average price increase below (keep in mind the percentage will vary slightly according to your share size choice):
- Spring and Fall CSA – 10% increase
- Summer CSA – 28% increase
Realizing the price we actually needed to be charging for our Summer CSA–along with the price increase across the board for all of our produce due to rising costs in labor and supplies–has resulted in countless conversations (and some sleepless nights!). Can our CSA members–specifically those who usually choose the “Lower Income” option on our Sliding Scale–still afford to be part of our CSA?
We believe the answer to this is, again, YES.
How We Make Organic Produce Available to All
If you’re not sure you can afford the next season of CSA, consider the following options:
- Choose the “Lower Income” option on our sliding scale.
- Choose the option to pay 50% upon sign-up and 50% at the start of your CSA.
- Request from us a monthly payment plan.
- Explore a full or partial work share.
We’ve also applied for a grant from Fair Share Coalition that would allow us to give out CSA scholarships. We’ll keep you posted!
If you’re in a season of life where you can give back, consider …
- Choosing the ‘Higher Income” option on our sliding scale.
- Donating a CSA share. We have folks each season who anonymously donate CSA shares to families in our community.
We’re committed to growing the best veggies with the most efficient practices. We’re committed to managing our resources frugally and wisely. And we’re committed to doing anything and everything we can to make our produce available to all, while still providing for our employees and our family.
We believe THIS ALL is possible–by the grace of God, good work, and strong community. To all our current CSA members–THANK YOU for being part of our Community Supported Agriculture!