Our 2013 Approach

W H A T  I S  C O M M U N I T Y  S U P P O R T E D  A G R I C U L T U R E  ( C S A ) ?

A CSA is a cooperative food system that:

  • Reconnects people to the soil and each other in celebration of the land and the harvest
  • Provides fresh, seasonal, healthy, sustainably-produced, chemical-free food
  • Builds a strong, interactive partnership between farmer and shareholder that nurtures a culture of interdependence and mutual generosity
  • Allows the rewards and the risks of the growing season to be shared by the entire farm community
  • Preserves small-scale local farms, rural character, and agricultural traditions

During 2013, Brook Farm offered three types of CSA shares: a 21-week vegetable share, a 14-week flower share, and a spring seedling share with early May and early June pick-up dates.

T H E  C O M M U N I T Y

  • Eating together: Potluck suppers, recipe samples and picnics
  • Working together:  Work parties and work shifts in the field, porch and pavilion
  • Creating together: Farm music jams, hoe-down dance, and multi-artistic farm events
  • Learning together: Family and children’s education programs, farm skills training
  • Growing together: Re-create ourselves and our community by cherishing the land
  • Celebrating together: Joyful farmshare distributions, seasonal harvest celebrations

O U R  F A R M E R ‘ S  P L E D G E

Farmer's PledgeThe heart of sustainable agriculture is the integrity of the farmer.  We signed “The Farmer’s Pledge” of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York.  The pledge is a commitment to a broad set of sustainable farming principles that addresses labor issues, production practices (including chemical-free cultivation), community values and marketing.  We made this commitment to our shareholders, customers, and neighbors, and post the principles at our distribution and sales locations.  We are pleased to be among over 150 farmers that have signed the farmer’s pledge.

C S A  F A R M S H A R E  P I C K – U P  D A Y S

CSA members gathered behind the farmhouse to pick up their shares each Saturday from 9 to 11 am.  Shareholders scheduled themselves throughout the season to rotate pick-up day responsibilities under the direction of the farmer, including assisting the farm crew at fieldwork, vegetable processing, and farmshare preparation.  Farmshare pick-up days were a special time for the farm crew and shareholders to talk and celebrate together.  They sometimes featured live music, recipe samples, optional potluck brunch picnics, and opportunities to join group farm projects.  Everyone was encouraged to add their own special touch to our farmshare pick-up days.

S T Y L E  O F  D I S T R I B U T I O N

Shares incorporated a combination of pre-washed and harvested produce displayed on tables under our CSA pavilion.  On most weeks, a few U-Pick crops (such as herbs, peas, beans, and cherry tomatoes) were a part of the share.  We did not continue the market-style CSA shares of the 2012 season, but there were more vegetable choice options than in the traditional CSA share model:

  • On most pick-up days, we had a choice table.  For example, there could be five vegetable items on the choice table from which you may select three as part of the week’s farm share. 
  • We introduced a barter table so if there’s a vegetable you don’t want, you could exchange it for another vegetable on the barter table.
  • We also piloted a take-what-you-will-use style of distribution for selected vegetables.

F A R M  S E R V I C E

A vital part of the shareholder-farmer agreement was our shareholders’ commitment to a specified number of “farm hours” (based on share size) to help with farm work OR an alternative, equivalent contribution. This  connected shareholders with the farm crew and with the source of their food, and fostered mutual understanding.

Farm hours included fieldwork and other core farm tasks such as seeding, transplanting, harvesting, weeding, washing, and displaying of produce AND/OR less physically intensive or seated tasks such as shelling beans, husking garlic, data entry, food processing, cooking, welcoming people to CSA pickup days, coordinating events, contributing to the farm newsletter (ie. recipes), etc.  Farm hours included 20 hours per season per share for “family shares” and 10 hours per season per share for “duo shares” and “student shares.”  (To clarify, these hours were per share, not per person in the share).

If the farm hours simply did not work for your lifestyle, as an alternative you could  make a financial contribution to our farm intern program or talk to us about a gift or service that you wanted to contribute to the farm.  Making a few home-cooked meals for the crew?  Farm photographer?  Website development?  Farm equipment?  We were happy to discuss whatever it is that you would like to joyfully offer.

C S A  S H A R E  O P T I O N S   A N D   S L I D I N G   S C A L E

Our share prices reflected the true cost of growing healthy food and ensured that our farmers received a living wage. We offered vegetable share prices on a sliding scale that respects the differing incomes of households.  Shareholders chose the level within the range they would like to pay.  Those who paid an amount on the higher end of the range allow people with more limited means to participate in our farm community.  We expected that in a typical year the retail value of the produce received by shareholders would exceed even the highest value of the sliding scale range, not to mention the many perks of being part of the Brook Farm community. We offered other special arrangements for those with financial difficulties.

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