In addition to selling on-farm and in farmers markets, Upper Meadows Farm offers a Community Supported Agriculture program with several distribution sites in New Jersey and New York City. (Here’s a map of all our sites so you can find the one closest to you.)
A CSA is a partnership between a community of people and a farm. Members purchase a share of the farm’s harvest in advance of the growing season, which enables the farm to cover its year-round operating costs. CSAs began in Japan in the mid-1960s and are known there as teikei, literally, “putting the farmer’s face on the food”. The two models of CSA in the U.S. today are a “shareholder” model and a “subscription” model. The shareholder model is consumer-driven, with a core group that organizes members and hires a farmer. The subscription model is farm-driven: The farmer organizes the group and makes the majority of the decisions.
Upper Meadows Farm’s CSA is a combination of both. It began with a recognition by Farmer Len that it is much more meaningful to grow food for people he knows than simply to sell to some distributor or wholesale outlet where one never knows if the food is appreciated or thrown out. The efficiencies in a CSA, as well as the reduction of waste materials from packaging, have a significant positive environmental impact even for a small group.
While Leonard makes the day to day farming decisions and organizes distributions, CSA members have an active voice in what is grown and participate in its growing through volunteering about 4 hours of their time to help the farm. Participating as a volunteer in our community is a definitive demonstration that, “the more you put in, the more you get out” regarding the overall CSA experience. In return, Upper Meadows provides a healthy supply of seasonal, fresh, Certified Organic produce throughout the growing season. Together, Farmer Len and the members of the CSA recognize the variability of living systems and acknowledge that some crops will be very abundant and other crops may fail.
We generally open the sale of shares in the harvest in November, and accept members until the second week of June for the full season, which runs for 22 weeks from the first week in June to the last week in October. In 2009, we are also offering a limited number of mid-season shares, which will begin distribution during the week of August 17 and run for 11 weeks through the end of October.
For the full season, we offer Family, Half and Individual shares; the mid-season share has Family and Individual memberships. The share content varies with the season, but each weeks’ share will consist of five or more types of vegetables, beginning with greens and herbs in the spring and increasing in volume and variety as the season progresses. Look below the video for links to our weekly distributions in 2009.
Matt Hand, who has worked on the farm and been a CSA member, produced this video that explains what the CSA experience is all about.
Thank you for all for participating this year in our CSA!