So, you’ve been curious about CSAs and decided that it’s something you’d like to sign up for, and you’ve checked out the 2012 CSA list, but what if there’s not a drop-off location close to your home or work? Maybe you’d be interested in starting a drop-off location at your office.
How do you know if this might be a good option for your workplace? Ask yourself the following questions:
1) Is there someone (hopefully you!) who will champion the initiative? In my experience, the first thing you need to get a drop-off started is an enthusiastic organizer. This person will lead the group through the exercise of choosing a CSA farm to join, contact the farmer to see if a drop-off is possible, and generally keep things organized from week to week.
2) Are there people in your workplace who are interested in signing up too? Most farmers are looking for a minimum of 5-10 customers in order to make a drop-off worth their time and effort.
3) What’s the physical location like? Is there a space where the farmer can park the truck and unload boxes? Is there an out of the way spot where 5-10 (or more) boxes can be stacked until people take them home at the end of the workday?
If the responses to the above questions are favourable, your next step is choosing a farm. Here’s a list of CSA farms in Nova Scotia. Look through the list and see who has products, delivery routes and delivery days that fit your needs. Then contact the farmer to see if they would be willing to drop-off at your workplace. Sign up!
Once the deliveries have begun, here are some tips to make sure things carry on smoothly. I asked a number of workplace CSA members to share their tips with me. Here’s what they said:
1. Get a list of participants from the farmer. Have people initial when they pick up their box. Then you know who owns any boxes that are left behind at the end of delivery day.
2. Have a plan in place for when people are not able to pick up their boxes on delivery day. In our office, delivery day is Wednesday. Because our root cellar is unused in the summer, and it’s a relatively cool space, we stash boxes down there until mid-afternoon Friday. Any vegetables still left by mid afternoon on Friday are given away to staff. If you don’t have a place to store vegetables, you may want to make the pick up time window shorter. Make sure all participants know the policy.
3. Remind people to return their empty box/bag/bin each week. Store them out of the way each week and have them ready for the farmer when he/she drops off the (full) box/bag/bin the following week.
4. For people who are hesitant to participate, help pair them up. Then two people can split a chare. A full share can be daunting, especially for smaller households. This offers an easier way for people to participate.
5. Share recipes to encourage those who have difficulty incorporating new items in to their diet. For example, greens, like kale, can be challenging if you’re not used to eating them. There are lots of great local food blogs with recipe suggestions. You can also check out Select Nova Scotia or the Food Action Committee’s cookbook, Eating by the Seasons.
6. Provide your feedback to the farmer. Let him or her know what’s working well and what’s not. One Community Supported Bakery customer told me: “One thing I loved from the experience was the surprise of discovering which bread I would get weekly. I certainly tried bread I would never have known without the CSA experience. It was also really cool to talk to the baker who was delivering the bread herself (on her bike) and ask her questions. Made eating bread a very personal experience!” That’s exactly how I felt about getting a vegetable box each week! Each week it was exciting to open up a surprise box of vegetables.
Yours in Food,