FairShare CSA Coalition was recently awarded $35,000 from Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin to expand deliveries of fresh local food to Wisconsin workplaces [press release]. Workplace CSA programs offer employees the convenience of receiving fresh produce at work while supporting a small family farm.
Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin is a DATCP economic development program designed to increase the production and sale of local foods. In the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model consumers and farmers work together. Farm “members” pay an upfront fee in the spring for a “share” of the season’s harvest, which is delivered weekly during the growing season.
“We’re excited about partnering with the Department of Agriculture to expand the CSA movement across the state and to help build access to workplace CSA in rural areas,” said Chris Brockel, FairShare’s executive director.
FairShare works with companies, free of charge, to help determine site logistics and to assist with farmer relationship development.The Workplace CSA Toolkit includes step-by-step instructions and templates for surveys and employee outreach.
In 2013, FairShare worked closely with one pilot company, Aprilaire/Research Products, with offices in Madison and Poynette, to develop an exemplary workplace CSA program. Aprilaire was concerned with lowering its health care costs and implemented workplace CSA as part of their wellness initiatives. To engage employees and promote success with CSA, Aprilaire offered CSA presentations, cooking demos, assistance filing for health insurance rebates, payroll deduction and other incentives. More than 20 percent of their employees signed up.
In their end-of-season survey, Aprilaire asked their CSA participants: Did you or anyone in your family notice any health benefits from eating more fresh produce?
“The CSA program has been a phenomenal success,” said Bill Herman, corporate director of Human Resources. “Employees have an increased awareness of purchasing local food, are eating better and we have made significant strides in our focus on nutrition.”
In 2014, the coalition will expand workplace CSA support to companies located outside of Dane County, particularly in LaCrosse, Vernon, Crawford, Winnebago and Jefferson Counties.
Among the many new Dane County companies adding workplace CSA sites in 2014 are Meriter Health Services, Summit Credit Union, Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District and WHEDA (Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority).
For the past 22 years, FairShare CSA Coalition has acted as a vehicle for organizing farms, training farmers, educating the community, and recruiting new farm customers to keep farms economically viable.
For more information about workplace CSA opportunities, please contact Julie Garrett, FairShare CSA Coalition’s Community Program Manager, at (608) 226-0300 or julie@
Grant recipients will use the awarded funds to reduce the marketing, distribution and processing hurdles that impede the expansion of Wisconsin food product sales to local purchasers. Previous Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin grant recipients have generated $5.95 million in new local food sales, created and retained 120 jobs, and benefited more than 2,060 producers.
Grant recipients were selected through a competitive process. Each project recipient will provide cash or an in-kind match equivalent to or greater than 50 percent of the total project costs. For more about Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin, go online to datcp.wi.gov/Business/Buy_Local_Buy_Wisconsin.