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Case study summaries

CSAs come in many shapes and sizes. How they come together is dependent on the needs of the community, the capacity of the farmer and the land available. Here is a glimpse of some successful CSAs to give you some ideas about what is possible:

Loxley Valley Community Farm, Yorkshire

Barker Organics
A producer-run box scheme with an approximate turnover of £40,000 a year. Customers have formed themselves into an independent Organic Produce Support Group and support the Barker family’s organic production by raising funds for capital investments and offering their skills and contacts. David Barker said "If the support group had not been formed, quite honestly we would not be in business now!"

Community Supported Farming (CSF) is a CSA catalyst project based in South Devon, where a series of community land events enable land to be gradually taken out of conventional agriculture into feeding local people through the application of a mixture of biodynamic, permaculture and organic principles. CSF is working with schools, other local groups and members to generate CSA enterprises on each site within the Neighbourhood Farm Network.

Dragon Orchard Crop Sharers
A crop share scheme, where cropsharers pay for a share in the yearly apple harvest, orchard products and have seasonal weekend visits. The enterprise is farmer led and provides opportunities for members to enjoy and understand the local landscape and culture.

Earthshare CSA
Established in 1994, EarthShare is a CSA based in Moray, NE Scotland. They grow soft fruit and vegetables for up to 200 local families. Subscribers sign up to the scheme for a year at a time and they are encouraged to come to the field to help. They aim to put people back in touch with the seasons, the land, and how their food is produced.

EdinburghCommunity Food Initiative(ECFI) is a grassroots organisation providing affordable fresh fruit and vegetables to people in disadvantaged areas of Edinburgh. It is developing a CSA scheme as part of a wider sustainability programme and aims to create links with local growers to supply them. A waste management scheme is also envisaged where waste fruit and vegetables will go back out to growers for composting.

EPO Growers
They produce vegetables, soft fruit and herbs all grown organically to their members through a box type scheme. Members also contribute 8 hours of work per year.
It was set up in 1986 with these aims of providing worthwhile training and work for young people; teaching people how to take control of their own nutrition by growing it themselves; the most health giving food possible; increasing knowledge in how to grow organic produce and finally to sell enough produce to maintain the project.

 Goddard Farm
A small biodynamic vegetable box scheme, supplying 20 households who commit in advance to a share of the seasons crops. There are open days, a newsletter and 2 of the consumers volunteer on the farm.

Growing Communities
An established social enterprise initiated by urban community activists providing community growing, links with farms, therapeutic placements, volunteering, training, a box scheme, shop and farmers market. Growing Communities works for community, environmental and economic benefit.

Kinghorn CSA Farm Club
A nascent CSA bringing together a well-established environmental education centre, with a new 'social firm' specialising in producing meat from rare breeds.

Lathcoats Farm
A commercial fruit farm of 55ha with a large farm shop and pick your own (PYO) scheme. In 2000 the farm embarked on a trial rent-a-tree scheme hiring out apple trees in return for their yield. Scheme organiser Philip Taylor decided to continue the scheme because, although it did not generate a great deal of direct income, it provided valuable publicity for the farm and the farm shop.

Lower Cwm Harry Land Trust
A successful Community Composting Scheme, based on collections of material from residents of Newtownin Powys, sought to find a way to utilise its main product - compost. Through a CSA approach, they complete the loop by providing food, back to residents in the town.

Meadowhead is a small organic livestock farm that butchers its own cattle, sheep and pigs and sells the meat direct. It is developing a CSA scheme because it wants to build better and closer links with its customers. It is also interested in trading on a barter basis.

Rent-a-vine, Sedlescombe Organic Vineyard
Rentavine is a farmer led marketing scheme. In exchange for a membership fee, club members are entitled to discounts on organic wines, juices, liqueurs, fruit wines and ciders. They have priority access to wines produced in small quantities. They may visit the vineyard for leisure, wine tasting or to help with the work.

Stroud Community Agriculture
A community led enterprise, begun in 2001 to develop a farm to the groups social and environmental principles. Members pay a monthly subscription to cover farm costs, including a wage for the two full time farmers. Farm produce is divided amongst the members via a weekly box. There are now 189 members with a vegetable share and the group has more recently expanded to include livestock and now offer beef, lamb and pork. The group rents 50 acres of land which is certified organic and is influenced by biodynamic methods.


For more detailed case studies, see http://www.soilassociation.org/csa.aspx

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