We often hear the question: why should I get a CSA share, can I just support you at the farmers’ market? There are numerous differences between participating in a CSA and shopping the market. One big difference is how your support contributes to the finances of the farm.
Here is a chart of our projected revenue and expenses for the 2015 season. Notice that from mid-January through October we expect to take in more revenue than we pay out in expenses. The large up-swing in expenses at the end of the year are our loan payments on equipment and infrastructure.
So what would happen if all of our CSA members decided to be market shoppers instead? The next chart reflects the same total revenue and expenses, but all of the CSA revenue has been reallocated to the months when farmers’ markets are active. Here you can see that January through May we would be paying expenses while bringing in zero revenue.
Going further, too much reliance on farmers’ markets can be a big risk for a small farm. On a good year, every Saturday is sunny and warm and people show up to shop. On the other hand, occasionally a few too many market days end up being rainy and/or cold and only the most dedicated market-goers show up to buy food. So, not only does CSA membership cash-flow the farm, but it is a significantly more stable method for planning production and distributing food. Want to learn more? Read about our CSA program, check out our budget for this season, or give us a call!