Marketing & Business Management – FairShare CSA Coalition
This section contains a collection of print and internet resources selected to help new and established farmers develop or improve a business plan, finances, and labor management strategies.
Table of Contents

Business Planning

CSA Business Examples
Take a glimpse at the business chronologies – acres, sales, staff, equipment – of real CSA farms! These documents were presented at the Midwest CSA Conference in 2013. While names are not associated with the two documents called “Set 1” and “Set 2,” the numbers are all from real Midwest CSA farms.

Filling a Box
This is a handout from a FairShare session by Chris McGuire at Two Onion Farm. Other resources about box contents include:

A Farmer’s Guide to LLCs
Farm Commons offers resources on this website about the type of legal entity your CSA business can be.

Planning for a Successful CSA Season
A series of questions and ideas every CSA farmer should consider when planning for the season. Courtesy of Harmony Valley Farm, part of the Coalitions ongoing grower education programs.

Cooperative CSA Manual
This publication explores the benefits and challenges of operating a cooperative CSA.

Building a Sustainable Business
An excellent SARE publication which examines how farm families set goals, research processing alternatives, determine potential markets, and evaluate financing options. Includes sample and blank worksheets. Freely available as a PDF or $17.00 for a print version. An abbreviated Spanish version is available here.

ATTRA Business Planning
The ever-useful ATTRA has several publications on business planning and management for farm enterprises.

Preparing a Business Plan: A Guide for Agricultural Producers
A thorough collection of publications from the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture covering planning your business structure, finances, marketing, labor, and production. Different country, same principles.

USDA Guide to Starting a Small Business
An enormous and comprehensive list of government and third-party publications regarding business start-up, planning, and management.

UMN Ag Plan
Free, online business planning software for farms and agricultural businesses from the University of Minnesota.

Building a Plan for Your Farm
A basic overview of developing a business plan.

USDA Farm Business Plan Worksheets
Two worksheets to help develop a business plan. The first worksheet is for compiling business plan information and the second worksheet focuses on projected income/expenses over time.


Business and Labor Management

Building a Legally Sound Intern and Volunteer Program for Farm Work 
Get ahead of the curve and learn ways to build a legally compliant intern or volunteer program for your farm with this Farm Commons Video.

Model Membership Agreement Workbook
Farm Commons offers this model membership agreement along with other legal forms for CSA!

Labor Management in Agriculture

An excellent, 260-page publication available as a free PDF from the University of California. It covers a broad array of topics, including hiring, worker education, performance evaluation, wages, communicating effectively, and managing conflicts.

Positive Practices in Farm Labor Management
A brochure from ATTRA highlighting a broad range of positive labor practices—including many that are no-cost or low-cost—that can help you to improve worker satisfaction and retention on your farm. This handbook is based upon “Best Labor Practices on 12 California Farms: Toward a More Sustainable Food System,” published by the California Institute for Rural Studies, which can be viewed here.


Marketing and Communication

Ongoing Member Communication
Tricia Bross of Luna Circle Farm led this presentation which discusses a different ways to stay in touch with your CSA members. Methods discussed include brochures, newsletters, websites, and surveys. Check out the sample newsletters too!

Social Media Marketing for Direct to Market Farms
A report by Dane County UW Extension on Facebook targeted advertising, including evidence-based recommendations on how to drive traffic to your website and most effectively market your CSA business online


Communicating with CSA Members in Challenging Times
Notes from this 2013 FairShare Grower Gathering at Crossroads Community Farm

Communicating With Members Using Social Media
A handout is from a presentation at the 2013 Midwest CSA Conference

Marketing Your Farm
This presentation contains sample brochures and a PowerPoint presentation on basic principles for marketing your farm.

CSA Guide to Accepting SNAP / EBT
PDF guide and a video containing info for farmers nationwide about accepting SNAP / EBT.

Farm Fresh Atlas
A listing of farms that sell local food in southern Wisconsin.


Wholesale Sales

Financial Resources

Wisconsin FSA
This USDA agency has loan programs for farmers of all sizes including a new microloan program for small and beginning farms

Badgerland Financial
Young and Beginning Ag Entrepreneur Loans

Dane County Revolving Loan Fund
In Dane County? The RLF offers low interest rates loans to ag entrepreneurs.

Got Moo-La
Huge list of grants, loans, and other resources from DATCP

Heartland Credit Union
Offers a wide-range of agricultural loans.

SARE Grants
SARE offers a variety of grants to farmers that fund research and education projects.


Grower Infosheets

FairShare farmers write fact sheets for other farmers about a variety of topics, including issues related to running your business.  The PDFs of the fact sheets are available on the FairShare website here.


Books & Print Resources

  • Wisconsin Local Food Marketing Guide. DATCP. 2011.
  • The New Farmers’ Market. Vance Corum, Marcie Rosenzweig, and Eric Gibson. 2001
  • The Organic Farmers’ Business Handbook: A Complete Guide to Managing Finances, Crops, and Staff and Making a Profit. Richard Wiswall. 2009
  • You Can Farm, The Entrepreneurs Guide to Start and Succeed in a Farming Enterprise. Joel Salatin. 2008
    Family Friendly Farming. Joel Salatin. 2001


  • Farm-Fresh &Fast. FairShare CSA Coalition. 2013.
  • From Asparagus to Zucchini: A Guide to Cooking Farm‐Fresh Seasonal Produce. Third Edition.FairShare CSA Coalition. 2004
  • Rolling Prairie Cookbook. Nancy O’Connor. 1998
  • Farmer John’s Cookbook: The Real Dirt on Vegetables. John Peterson. 2006
  • Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America’s Farmer’s Markets. Deborah Madison. 2002
  • Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini. Elizabeth Schneider. 2001
  • On Food and Cooking. Harold McGee. 2004
  • Lulu’s Provencal Table. Richard Olney. 1994
  • Cooking By Hand. Paul Bertolli. 2003
  • Nourishing Traditions. Sally Fallon. 2006
  • The Victory Garden Cookbook. Marian, Morash. 2010
  • Pig Perfect. Peter Kaminsky. 2005
  • The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating. Fergus Henderson. 2004
  • Chez Panisse Fruit. Alice Waters. 2002
  • Chez Panisse Vegetables. Alice Waters. 1996
  • Wild Fermentation. Sandor Ellix Katz. 2003
FairShare CSA Coalition

FairShare CSA Coalition