The CSA farmer to farmer booklet
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Previous training programmes designed by the European CSA Movements, such as Be Part of CSA!, insist on training farmers and consumers concurrently in order to build a strong community. This booklet focuses on the need for educatio- nal guidance designed for CSA farmers.
The objective of this booklet is to provide prospective and/or new farmers that are interested in venturing into CSA with the best practices as well as necessary economic, technical, logistical, agricultural, and social knowledge. It does so by outlining tips and insights gathered from experienced CSA farmers from all over Europe. It explores such questions as: how might we understand the occupation of a “CSA farmer”? Which types of skills (both hard and soft) does it require? How do we understand the failures and successes with respect to the profitability of CSA farms? Which strategies are most successful for running a CSA farm? Which tools are necessary to create and share? How can we better organise cooperation across multiple producers? How can we better organise community building wi- thin the CSA core group?
In addition to the knowledge, skills, and experiences, which are required for managing a complex, ecologically-based production system, CSA farmers also need strong skills for building a social organisation, which this booklet outlines.
This “CSA Farmer-to-Farmer booklet” consists of the following four chapters:
1. Farming challenges: What are the main challenges that a CSA farmer faces? This chapter takes a deeper look at soil fertility, irrigation, biodiversity, and crop planning.
2. The economic sustainability of CSAs: What is considered a fair share? CSA farmers need to determine how much is considered fair as well as how much produce to include within a share.
3. Diversified marketing, logistics and distribution: Many farms combine CSA with other forms of marketing, such as selling at farmers’ markets and/or to restaurants and retail stores. This can be an excellent strategy from an economic standpoint, but it can also generate conflicts. Where do multiple-producer CSAs fit into this model?
4. Community building: How can we encourage committed members to support CSA farmers, thereby providing farmers with ample time to focus their energies and skills on producing high-quality food, regenerating their farmland, and caring for themselves?
The basic teaching principles explored throughout these chapters are illustrated through applied case studies from experienced European CSA networks as well as from inspiring stories of CSA farmers.