New Farmer Coalition Formed to Promote Community Supported Agriculture

Connecting Farmers Directly to Consumers 

CHICAGO—(ENEWSPF)—April 20, 2015. Band of Farmers: The Chicagoland CSA Coalition is a farmer-led coalition of farms that serve the greater Chicago area with Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA. A project of Illinois Stewardship Alliance, the Coalition aims to spread awareness of local foods in general and the CSA model as a way of receiving local foods.

CSA is characterized by a group of consumers who provide financial support to a farm in the pre-season when most farms have expenses (labor, seeds, soil inputs) but little income. These “subscribers” then receive a share of a farm’s harvest throughout the growing season.  It is an approach to food production and distribution that connects people directly to their farmer. “The upfront money helps for sure, but the primary benefit is getting to know the people we’re growing for,” says Julia McDonald, a Manteno, Illinois, farmer with Peasants’ Plot.

Commonly, a CSA share consists of a weekly share of vegetables grown on a local farm, but other options, such as meat, eggs, and fruits, are offered either separately or in conjunction with a vegetable CSA, and may be offered on a monthly basis. Foods grown locally are harvested close to the time of delivery, and because most CSA farms are organic or growing sustainably, the foods are more nutrient-dense than their grocery store counterparts.

Subscribers pick up regular deliveries of food from the farm or at a nearby host site—a subscriber’s home, a church, or a local business—or in a few instances, by direct home delivery. Some workplaces act as host sites, offering their employees the convenience of picking up their shares right at the office and providing the employer with a healthier workforce.

To get an idea of the growth potential that fuels CSA farmers in this area and led to formation of Band of Farmers: 

The Madison, Wisconsin, metropolitan area has a population of approximately 600,000, and CSA farmers there serve 9,500 households, according to FairShare CSA Coalition’s 2013 Annual Report.

The Chicago metropolitan area, by comparison, has a population of approximately 9,000,000 and serves roughly the same number of households (based on an average of 100 households per CSA multiplied by 80-90 CSA farms serving Chicagoland).

In order to make this large—and largely untapped—potential market for local foods aware of  CSAs that serve their area, Band of Farmers will have a presence at a number of community events throughout the Chicagoland area—from Hyde Park to Glencoe to Aurora, and more. The website, www.bandoffarmers.org, provides a variety of tools for consumers to learn about CSAs and to find the CSA that best serves their needs. Among those tools are:

A searchable CSA Directory of member farms with a detailed profile on each farm

An interactive Pickup Site Map showing the exact locations where CSAs can be received

Frequently Asked Questions about CSAs and a list of Factors to Consider in choosing a CSA

Information on creating a CSA pickup site where you live or work

Email newsletters about local foods events in the Chicagoland area

A list of events where you can find Band of Farmers—from the annual Farmer Talent Show to various markets and fests where the Coalition will have a presence

These tools for consumers looking for a CSA and more can be found on their website, www.bandoffarmers.org.

Source: www.bandoffarmers.org