Extension partners to develop statewide CSA survey

The statewide CSA working group is seeking feedback from CSA farmers through online survey.

For the past few years Michigan State University Extension has been one of several partners helping to support Michigan Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farmers through the Michigan Statewide CSA Working Group.

Community-supported agriculture, or CSA, is a popular form of direct to consumer marketing used by farms of varying size across Michigan and the country. In its simplest form, the model pairs a customer with an individual farm through the purchase of a share in the farm’s annual harvest. This purchase is typically made before the season starts and results in a weekly box of fruits and vegetables harvested from the farm throughout the growing season. The model allows for shared risk between the farmer and customer and benefits the farmer by allowing for pre-payment.

CSAs allow for consumers to have a direct connection with farmers. As farmers often choose what is in weekly shares based on availability, consumers learn about seasonality and can try new foods. Farmers, in turn, have more upfront costs for early-season inputs, develop a consistent customer base and can plan for predictable demand.

The Michigan CSA Working Group is a collective of organizations, including Michigan State University Extension with the goals of understanding and promoting the CSA model statewide and reducing barriers to participation for all. Ultimately, this group is working to improve individual health and to increase viability of diversified family farms across Michigan.

In pursuit of this, The Michigan Statewide CSA Working Group is excited to announce the development of the first Michigan Statewide CSA Survey. This survey will help identify common characteristics of viable CSA farms and more effectively target technical assistance that can grow CSAs throughout Michigan. The survey assesses general characteristics, including CSA type and structure, communication and outreach strategies with customers and farm management structure, among others to identify the strategies that make CSAs work.

The Michigan CSA Working Group is seeking experiences from all types of CSAs and both current and previous CSA farmers. No information will be used individually, rather the group will focus on aggregate responses to help identify common characteristics of viable CSA farms. This survey will help shed light on the current state of the CSA model in Michigan and benefit current CSA farmers, members and support organizations like Michigan State University Extension. Survey results will be organized into a white paper and report that will be made available to the public and will be used to design new education and outreach activities.

The survey can be accessed at http://bit.ly/MICSASurvey. Any questions about the survey can be directed to Garrett Ziegler of Michigan State University Extension.

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