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FairShare Awarded USDA Grant to Grow CSA

FairShare Awarded USDA Grant to Grow CSA

(MADISON, WISC.) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently awarded FairShare CSA Coalition, one of the oldest Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) organizations in the United States, a Farmers Market Promotion Grant. The funded project will create a CSA marketing study for Wisconsin consumers and assist emerging CSA networks nationwide in replicating FairShare’s successful marketing programs.

USDA logoThe purpose of the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) is to increase domestic consumption of, and access to, locally and regionally produced agricultural products, and to develop new market opportunities for farm and ranch operations serving local markets. The program focuses on marketing and promotion projects involved with farmers markets, Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs), and other direct-to-consumer outlets for local food.

FairShare’s project, “Expanding CSA Markets: Increasing Consumer Demand Through CSA Networks and Targeted Marketing” was funded at $95,508. It was one of 164 marketing and promotion projects funded nationwide, and the only FMPP project funded in Wisconsin.

“This grant will allow us to provide valuable tools and insights to CSA farmers in Wisconsin,” said Erika Jones, FairShare’s executive director. “In addition, FairShare often fields calls from farmers in emerging CSA networks, and we are excited to develop tools to help strengthen CSA in their regions. We look forward to learning together with our CSA network partners.”

Gorgeous late summer shares at Roots & Shoots, LLC. Photo by farmer Heidi Accola.

Late summer shares at Roots & Shoots, LLC. Photo by farmer Heidi Accola.

As part of the grant, FairShare is working with marketing professionals to create a consumer marketing survey. The survey will examine past, present and potential CSA members’ interest in, and knowledge of, community supported agriculture and locally-produced foods. Results will be used to inform marketing strategies for the coalition’s 53 small family farms that market across Southern Wisconsin and into Minnesota, Iowa, and Illinois.

FairShare will also create four marketing toolkits to assist other CSA networks in replicating the coalition’s successful projects. These will include Farm to Business (Workplace CSA); CSA Outreach (CSA Open House), Fundraising and Promotions (Bike the Barns), and Health Insurance CSA Rebates. Participating networks include:

  • Hudson Valley CSA Network (New York)
  • California CSA Network (statewide)
  • West Michigan Growers Guild (Grand Rapids, Mich.)
  • Lake Superior Growers Guild (Duluth, Minn. and northwestern Wisconsin)

FairShare is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 1992. Since its inception, FairShare has grown from eight CSA farms initially selling 275 CSA shares to Madison-area members to 53 endorsed farms with over 13,000 shares sold annually. All FairShare-endorsed farms are certified organic or in transition to organic certification.

FairShare’s 24th annual CSA Open House is scheduled for noon-4 p.m. Sunday, March 13, 2016 at Monona Terrace in Madison. More than 35 CSA farmers that deliver shares to the greater Madison area will be on hand to answer questions about joining their farms.

The coalition’s popular fundraiser, Bike the Barns, is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 20 near Madison, and is celebrating the ride’s 10th anniversary in 2016. The 4th annual Bike the Barns Driftless will be held Sunday, June 26 near Viroqua, Wisc.

For more information, please contact FairShare’s executive director Erika Jones at (608) 226-0300 or email to info@csacoalition.org.

FairShare CSA Coalition

FairShare CSA Coalition