CA Small Farm News

News and information for small-scale farmers, ranchers and farmers’ market managers
21
Jun

The Future of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in California

Post Authors: Libby Christensen and Kate Munden-Dixon

At this year’s California Small Farm Conference in Sacramento, CA, researchers from the University of California – Davis facilitated an engaging roundtable discussion around the future of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in California. Researchers presented findings from their statewide study of CSA operations, current, and former members. Resources from the study, including handouts that were shared during the session, can be found on the Community Alliance with Family Farmers website. The research team also reported back from six presentations organized over the past year to disseminate the study’s findings.

We also heard from Dave Runsten, Policy Director at CAFF. He spoke about recent California legislation on direct marketing, in particular AB 224, which requires single-farm and multi-farm CSAs to register with the CDFA assuring that CSAs would maintain their exempt status for certain health and safety regulations.  CAFF will also be working with LocalHarvest.org to assure the accuracy of the CSA database, and strengthen the California CSA Network.

Most importantly we got to hear from the nearly 50 other people in the room. Many had extensive experience running their own CSAs, while others were exploring opportunities to start one in their own communities.  Various issues were discussed from day-to-day operation questions, like pricing and amount of items to put in the box, to larger issues like member retention, aggregated CSAs and strategies to supply produce to low-income communities. The group also began discussing efforts to organize marketing and education of CSAs across the state. Some ideas that emerged were improving the visibility and google ranking of LocalHarvest.org, assuring that all of the CSAs listed on LocalHarvest.org are in fact operational CSAs, and developing educational materials that can be easily customized for individual CSAs.

For further information do not hesitate to contact Dr. Ryan Galt at UC Davis (regalt@ucdavis.edu) or Dave Runsten with CAFF (dave@caff.org).