CSA is a two-way street. What can you do to be a great CSA member?
The more you know about how your farm operates the better prepared you are to understand various factors that affect production. Ask to tour the farm and see cultivation equipment, irrigation, greenhouses and the like. Your farmer will feel flattered that you care enough to educate yourself. Get to know your farmer, and share some of yourself as well. As you would do with others in your community, spend time building a relationship.
Your purchase of a farm membership is a financial commitment, and your financial support is incredibly important to your farm. Many farmers will understand if you can’t make a payment on time, but communication is key.
This helps everyone involved with the farm– the other farm members, the delivery site host, the farmer. If there is something you don’t understand, please ask. Introduce yourself to your delivery site host and get to know them a little. If someone else is picking up your box, make sure they also understand the expectations.
For many farms, the newsletter is the primary means of communicating with the farm members. This is your tool to understand what is going on at your farm.
Your farmer wants to know when something goes wrong. If you phrase your comment as a question, you’ll be more likely to get information about conditions that led to the situation. Quality control is an important part of every farmer’s job, and you can help.
Every farmer knows that new members will have a lot of questions. Your farmer would love to answer them so that you won’t be left to wonder. If you have a question, chances are that others will have the same questions.
In addition to letting your farmers know about problems, it’s wonderful to hear positive feedback. You can be a bright spot in your farmer’s life by telling them when you like something. If your farm distributes an end-of-season survey, please fill it out. Help make your farmer a better farmer by contributing feedback.
Offer to volunteer on the farm with whatever your farmer needs. Tell your farmer if you have a special skill to share. They can use help with everything from hand weeding, to assisting with farm member days, to promoting the farm.
Help to build a community of farm members by getting to know others. Farm members will be more likely to return each year if they know other members. If you know of a new member who might be struggling a bit, make sure you take them under your wing.
If you like your farm, be sure to let others know about it. Ask for some extra membership materials and keep them on your desk at work for your co-workers, or keep some on the kitchen table for visiting friends. Even if your farm is not interested in expanding they will still need some new members every year.
This article was written by Erika Jensen, a passionate CSA member and FairShare CSA Coalition volunteer.