Csa starts herE
An educational video series for aspiring and beginning CSA farmers
Welcome to the home of CSA Starts Here: an educational video series for aspiring and beginning CSA farmers. These twelve free videos will help you evaluate whether or not CSA farming is the right model for you while also explaining the skills you need to nurture in order to be successful at CSA farming.
You can view all twelve videos below. They were created by a team of five CSA farmers in the Midwest with funding from North Central SARE. These educational videos were produced independently of the CSA Innovation Network.
Click on a video title to jump to a specific section
Each video is 10-15 minutes long
CSA Starts Here Workbook
The CSA Starts Here Workbook was developed to accompany the educational video series. The workbook includes questions to reflect on during each video as well as key resources related to the topic.
How to Use the CSA Starts Here Educational Videos
The videos can be watched in order as one comprehensive training or viewed individually as needed. We recommend you watch the series one topic at a time and reflect on each using the attached workbook. These videos are available to everyone, at no charge. Individuals can view the videos online after completing the short online evaluation form associated with each title.
Each video includes:
A question that explores a specific facet of CSA
An introduction that explains why that question is meaningful
Our own unique experiences within CSA and how we have mastered or struggled overtime
Tips, tricks, hacks and stories from other experienced CSA farmers
Prompts for self-evaluation that ask you to dig deep and consider your own unique skill set, passions, and desires
Who We Are
This film series was developed by a group of five CSA farmers from the upper Midwest: Lauren Rudersdorf of Raleigh’s Hillside Farm, Kat Becker of Cattail Organics, Bethanee Wright of Winterfell Acres, Kelly Lagman of One Seed Farm, and Jonnah Perkins of Vermont Valley Community Farm.
This film series envisions a world with more successful, small-scale, sustainable farmers.
We believe that a well-run CSA farm builds a successful, resilient, and profitable farm business. We believe in the viability and strength of CSA, but know that CSA is not for everyone and that most sustainable farmers are those operating within a business model that fits their skills, interests and passions.
When a business model is in alignment, farmers are more profitable, experience a more balanced quality of life, and implement ecological innovations. When farmers feel burdened by day-to-day operations that do not suit them, they often suffer higher stress levels, lower income, and a lack of energy to pursue more sustainable solutions (not to mention a significantly greater chance of failure overall).
This film series was made to help you determine whether or not CSA is the best business model for you and move forward into a successful, sustainable farming career with ease.
Should I Start A CSA Farm?
An introduction to our education video series
Learn more about why we created this video project and the goals behind it. Meet the project’s creators and allow us to walk you through an overview of the series format and content.
Are You Passionate About the CSA Model and Movement?
In this first video, we focus on one of the key elements of running a CSA business: passion. Learn about the history of the CSA movement, the concept of shared risk and shared bounty, what sets CSA apart from other business models, and the generally agreed upon ethics we see in CSAs across the nation.
Gaining Production Skills
CSA is often called the PhD of farming. It requires farmers to be experts at growing, washing and storing dozens of different crops each season, often in multiple successions. Learn why experience is important for both your individual CSA farm and the CSA movement as a whole, and view many different examples of how farmers can gain production experience prior to starting a CSA.
Creating a CSA Crop Plan
A solid crop plan is imperative to a successful CSA season as we often are planting every week to maintain full, diverse boxes. Learn about the diversity of products that go into an average CSA share throughout the season and what makes up a good box while also furthering your understanding of the importance of crop planning and how shared risk and shared bounty fits (or doesn't fit) into the equation.
CSA is All About the Details
CSA is notorious for having a lot of little details to keep track of. Learn about the administrative work required of CSA farms, see how farmers are getting it all done, and get more information about the tools and software programs that might help.
Building a Financially Strong CSA Business
When it comes to money and finances, farmers tend to fall into one of two camps. Those who understand money is an important part of their farm's overall success. And those who pretend money has nothing to do with farming. Learn about CSA’s unique farm financial management issues and basic cash flow analysis before hearing from a few different CSA farmers about how they manage debt, investment and growth.
Marketing the CSA Farm
CSA is a direct-to-consumer business, which means marketing is especially important. Learn about the basics of marketing and its importance in a CSA business as well as the significance of storytelling and understanding your farm’s unique identity.
Establishing & Managing Customer Expectations
The only way to ensure you have happy CSA customers is to communicate with them. Learn all about the annual arc of CSA communications, how farmers are executing it on their own operations, and how communication can be used to establish and manage customer expectations, ultimately leading to better retention and happier customers.
Prioritizing Customer Service
CSA is a direct-to-consumer business. That means you have customers and you serve them directly. Learn about customer service and education in the CSA space, what it means to run a human-centered business, and how to outsource different aspects of this work.
Learning to Make Sacrifices
In every career, in every business, in every decision, there are sacrifices. When you decide to enter the farming sector and the CSA model more specifically, you are choosing a particular kind of life, you are committing to a certain set of trade-offs.
Learn about the common trade-offs we’ve witnessed in organic farming and CSA production and how to navigate the difference between healthy and unhealthy levels of sacrifice.
Managing Stress on the CSA Farm
Stress is another completely normal part of CSA life, but that doesn’t mean it has to be all-consuming. Learn the difference between sacrifice and stress as well as how to identify potential stress risks related to CSA farming, and create a plan to manage these risks before a major issue arises.
So... Should You Start a CSA Farm?
Making the most of this educational video series
Receive a summary of the lessons learned throughout this series, evaluate whether or not CSA is the right next step for you right now, gain some tools and resources if it is, and learn from some farmers who decided to wait to start their CSAs if it’s not.
This project was made possible with funding from North Central SARE’s Farmer Rancher Grant Program.