October 25, 2010

Community Supported Agriculture

What I’m Reading Today: I finished Michael Cunningham’s By Nightfall. It rocked my world! More on this tomorrow, after I have a chance to write a long thoughtful post about it.

My husband and I recently signed up for Grant Family Farms CSA. Grant Family Farms is in northern Colorado and is actually a number of farms and orchards grouped together, I think, or one that includes others in its sales. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. This is what it is (from the USDA website):

Community supported agriculture (CSA) is a new idea in farming, one that has been gaining momentum since its introduction to the United States from Europe in the mid-1980s. The CSA concept originated in the 1960s in Switzerland and Japan, where consumers interested in safe food and farmers seeking stable markets for their crops joined together in economic partnerships. … In basic terms, CSA consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community's farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production. Typically, members or "share-holders" of the farm or garden pledge in advance to cover the anticipated costs of the farm operation and farmer's salary. In return, they receive shares in the farm's bounty throughout the growing season, as well as satisfaction gained from reconnecting to the land and participating directly in food production.

So, every Thursday afternoon, we go to our local organic foods store and pick up a box of goodies. We signed up for a veggie share, a fruit share, a bread share, and an egg share, and it’s all enough to fit in a big box. We get a dozen eggs (white, brown, and green Arikari) and a loaf of yummy artisan bread made from organic flour. Fruit shares are apples, pears, peaches, and plums (so far). Veg shares can include any or all of the following: potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, beets, daikon radishes, rutabaga, cauliflower, cucumbers, kale, collard greens, basil, cilantro, parsley, lettuce, spinach, Chinese cabbage, and more.

We get lots of variety but not huge amounts ~ enough for a recipe. Some of them may have blemishes, but their taste is out of this world! What vegetables and fruit are supposed to taste like! And the tomatoes! Oh god. They are so so good. So so good.

What’s more, all this variety is forcing us to be more adventurous in our cooking. I mean, we’ve always been adventurous, but, you know, you don’t always have the time to say, okay, new ingredient, let’s figure out a new recipe. Now we’re forced to, and it’s great fun. I’ve particularly loved a crustless greens pie, daikon radish cakes, and caprese pasta. This weekend, my husband made a chicken vegetable soup with leftover veg that was out of this world.

But what I really wanted to talk about with this post is the amazing job Grant Family Farms does with its internet communications and presence. Check out their website. You can very easily use a cart system to buy your shares or order meat. You can get all the info you need right there. And every week we get an email with what’s happening on the farm and suggested recipes. The farm has events, such as a come pick your Halloween pumpkin from the fields or come help bottle some wine and celebrate. They are very responsive and have the best possible customer service! I’ve never not been able to get ahold of them, even on the weekend they had a farm festival.

So it’s so inspiring to see age-old industries remaking and re-envisioning themselves, taking advantage of new tools to reach customers. Just like litmags and publishers are doing creative things with promotions and e-marketing.  I’m inspired for my own e-outreach efforts. Way to go, Grant Family Farms!

Questions of the Day: Have you come across innovative marketing campaigns and digital marketing techniques?

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