Frequently Asked Questions about CSA
- When is the best time to begin thinking about starting a CSA?
- Am I responsible for finding a farmer for my CSA?
- Can I start a CSA without other organizers helping me?
- How many members will we need to have the first year?
- How do I describe a CSA share to potential members?
- Can we get products other than vegetables?
- Do we have to pay for Just Food’s help in setting up our CSA?
- How do I get started?
When is the best time to begin thinking about starting a CSA?
Start thinking in the fall about a CSA for the following season. We hold Starting a CSA information sessions in the fall and Just Food matches CSA city groups with farmers in early winter. This allows time for farmers to plan for their new members and for city groups to do outreach and sign up members. See our Timeline for a New CSA for more information about what happens throughout the season.
Am I responsible for finding a farmer for my CSA?
No. Just Food has a process for accepting regional farmers into our CSA Network which includes a written application, evaluation by our program staff, and a farm visit. Just Food staff spends the fall and winter getting to know new city groups in order to make a good match for them with farmers in our network.
Can I start a CSA without other organizers helping me?
You can—but starting a CSA is a lot of work so we recommend that you find one or two other members of your community to help out at the beginning. Eventually, you will want a core group of five to ten people to help with running the CSA. You can even check with us to see if others in your area have already been in contact with Just Food—maybe you can work together!
How many members will we need to have the first year?
A general guideline is that farmers usually ask that you to sell at least 50 full shares to make it worthwhile to drop off at a location. This guideline can be flexible depending on the size of the farm, if the farmer is coming into the same area of the city for other drop-offs, and the probability of the CSA growing in future seasons.
How do I describe a CSA share to potential members?
When you meet your farmer you will get more information about their share size and the types of vegetables that they grow so that you can describe it accurately to potential members. If you feel that members of your community would be most happy with a particular size of share or types of vegetables, let us know and we’ll keep that in mind when selecting the right farm for you.
Can we get products other than vegetables at the CSA?
Yes, some vegetable farms offer additional product shares such as fruit, eggs, meat, or flowers from their farms or from neighboring farms. If the farm you are matched with doesn’t offer these types of shares, you may be able to source these products from other farms. Adding additional product offerings is exciting, but adds additional logistic work to managing a CSA. It may be better to take this on in future years.
Do we have to pay for Just Food’s help in setting up our CSA?
No. Just Food offers its staff time and resources to new CSA groups at no cost. However, we are a non-profit and would appreciate any support that your CSA is able to give.
How do I get started?
Get the word out to your friends and neighbors and let them know that you are thinking of starting a CSA. Try to gauge the level of interest in your community.
Complete the Core Training Inquiry Form to get updates on any upcoming "How To Start a CSA" workshop.
Start thinking about a possible distribution site in your neighborhood. Finding a distribution location can be one of the most challenging things about starting a CSA— so it’s good to start early. For information about what to look for in a distribution site, check out our Finding a Distribution Site tipsheet.
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