What a CSA is
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.
It is simply a farm share program between our local farm and the community of CSA members who receive the food the farm produces. Our members purchase a share of the annual growing season's harvest in advance, around early December and in return receive a weekly supply of our fresh, premium quality, organically grown (AO organic certification #10966) seasonal vegetable harvest, from February through mid August, picked at their peak of ripeness and flavour. The members agree to share in the inherent bounty/benefits and risks of the agricultural season. It helps farmers distribute risk and remain viable when there are unexpected increases or decreases in supply, and to manage our crops (or stock) as per known demand. CSA enables us to plan and budget each year. The arrangement guarantees the farmer financial support and enables many smaller sustainable farms to stay in business - literally!
In sharing some of the farmers' risk and bounty, CSA also helps connect eaters more closely to the farm and knowledge of food production methods and the daily realities of growing food. CSA seeks to connect consumers with the real story of their food and in doing so engender a deeper value for food and the process of growing it.
Why is this important?
With only 2% of Australians (approx) actually producing food for the other 98%, people are increasingly separated from the source of their food. Community Supported Agriculture is a response to this issue. It is a model that emphasizes locally grown, which promotes a local economy, and a safe food system. Participation in CSA leads to a deeper understanding of our interdependence on one another and the land.
The members' annual membership fee helps cover the farm's production costs and enables more efficient crop planning. In return, eaters become shareholders, it's a relationship of mutual support and commitment between farmers and eaters. When people obtain food this way from their local farmers, they are directly supporting their community's small family farms, as well as receiving the freshest available produce.
A Farm in Your Heart... We offer a direct relationship to our local farm. Food does not start at the customer’s door; it starts on the farm. Belonging to our farm, (as a CSA Season Share member) will enrich and broaden your culinary adventure. Joining our CSA means that you will experience your meals in a deeper, more connected way with Planet Earth and your farmers.
The CSA concept originated in Switzerland and Japan in the 1960s, and its basis is to “put the farmers’ face on food” (The word for which is teikei in Japanese). It is thought to have started in the U.S.A. in the 1970s-mid 1980s, initiated by New England farmers, who were seeking to produce high quality, local, primarily organic produce; reduce the financial risk before the harvest season and build a greater sense of authentic food community. By the 1990s CSA had caught on and continues to spread widely as farms across the U.S. (and rest of the world) seek new direct relationship models with a more efficient and transparent supply chain for fresh produce and other farm products. It is relatively new to Australia, though it is being well received with a growing movement, which at its heart supports food sovereignty and high value for all.
What a CSA is NOT
A CSA is NOT a regular 'pick and choose' or 'order whenever' at 'bargain basement price' weekly vegetable and fruit delivery box scheme. That kind/combo of produce "box scheme" is not what a true CSA model is all about. There are significant differences between joining a local CSA and purchasing from a 'Whole Foods', greengrocer, veg box order and delivery service or even a Farmers' Market. Joining a CSA requires a shift from going out and buying whatever you choose from a greengrocer each week and does not mean that you can select from 10 farmer stalls, growing in a variety of climates, who will bring only those crops that were successful that week to the Farmers' Market. It does not mean that you select from hundreds of Australia-wide or imported farms' produce that the delivery service or store has brought together for you under one roof. What joining a CSA means is that you share in one local farm’s harvest. You share in the risks and rewards of farming, with one farmer, not 10+ farmers operating under diverse circumstances, usually with a lack of transparency to you about how your food was grown, where it was grown and how it was handled (occasionally it works that local farms help supply a CSA with certain or unique items or they run a CSA together). When you join our CSA, you gain the ability to walk through the fields of crops and see your food being grown. Maybe help out with some of the farm work at times, AND you get to know your farmers on a first name basis.
Why WE chose the CSA Model
We have been successfully growing certified organic vegetables, herbs and garlic since 2006. We originally supplied local eaters with produce boxes via a week-by-week "box scheme" during summer and early autumn. In principle, that was the kind of relationship we desired with our customers and our farming - direct, weekly, mutually supportive, enjoyable relationships between us/our beautiful produce and our eaters and the personal satisfaction of growing a diverse small market garden producing less volume of each item but of more varieties of food plants. We did a great job and got lots of positive feedback but we were 1st generation or 'beginning farmers' with ample passion and some great skills, though not yet enough practical experience of commercial vegetable production or running a farm business to make that model viable, especially in our somewhat unpredictable local cool climate and relatively small local population. We put the weekly veg boxes on indefinite hiatus and focused on farmers' markets, restaurant and shop supply only. Until NOW! CSA we see as a genuinely viable option for all involved.
Our AIM with starting up this CSA is to:
Our farming has always been about health, conservation and regeneration - soil, landscape, water, feeding people, ourselves...
- Get back to our 'roots' for the 'why' and 'how' we enjoy farming
- Guaranteed income from the start of the production year - from seed purchasing onwards...
- Diversify our farming practices, marketing and eater relationships
- Keep farming!! (we need better security/ viability)
- Feed people well
- Feed more locals!! We have always welcomed some farm gate sales, at limited times of the week BUT it is not practical or viable under our circumstances and location to run a thriving farm gate shop.
- To ensure that the food being grown can ultimately be sold
- Give access to those who want our food but can't get to farmers' markets.
- Create a more stable farm model and income that will enable us to earn a more reliable living AND seek finance for a larger farm property of our own (we currently lease 7 acres, growing 14 acres of food annually) but we need more land to farm better, more viably and diversify in the long run. After 11 years, we can't see a better option than CSA towards long term viability and due reward for all our 'blood, sweat and tears'!?
- Create a community of real food and farming appreciators, allowing eaters to connect with the farm
- Add a significant and viable improvement to the fresh food supply chain
- To host on-farm tours and events for our CSA members. We look forward to forging meaningful relationships with our loyal CSA members and community.
Angelica Organic Farm's CSA
We 'kicked off' our inaugural CSA with our 2017 Autumn-Winter 16 week CSA (mid April - early August), with what proved a good variety of seasonal vegetables and herbs to represent those months and feed most people well with 'just picked' weekly veg. The produce is picked less than 24 hours prior to delivery to the Melbourne and Daylesford pick up hubs. The feedback from our CSA Share Members has been not only wonderfully positive week-to-week but also diverse, helpful and very rewarding for us and our farm hands.
When you share in one farm’s harvest, you are sharing in truly fresh, local seasonal crops. Therefore, LOCAL means our farm in Glenlyon (near Daylesford) and SEASONAL means the exact climatic conditions on our farm and the produce those localised weather conditions are currently supporting.
Some crops like it hot and some like it cool...all summer nightshade foods such as tomatoes require around 10C consistent overnight temps. Our tomatoes for example, are planted around early December, are field grown or grown in non-temperature-controlled poly tunnels for added protection, not in a hot-house under completely artificial conditions . You will be hanging out for tomatoes by February when ours typically start ripening... a little patience and understanding on your part will result in amazing naturally grown, Glenlyon in season, vine-ripened tomatoes in your share and you will NEVER look back (provided mother nature cooperates)!
With our produce supply, FRESH means picked yesterday or this morning! We grow everything by ORGANIC or BIODYNAMIC methods to produce clean, quality, local, nutrient dense food. To us NUTRIENT DENSE means produce grown by honest, skilled natural and holistic practices with a focus on a healthy soil microbiome to grow the healthiest plants, without the use or need of any artificial chemicals and fertilizers.
Typical “box schemes” more often than not source products from wholesalers and/or a number of farms all over the country (or imported), just as most grocery stores do. They are catering to what have become our ideas about what is in season - an all seasons '1 stop shop' ALL YEAR round. Community Supported Agriculture is about Both the Food and the Farm
Angelica Organic Farm does not just provide you and your family with fresh, local organic food; we also offer you a relationship to the food in its larger context—that of the farm. There are many wholesalers today that will aggregate and deliver boxes of fresh produce to your door, but the story of your food starts long before it arrives at your home; it starts on the farm.
All WE can provide is what can be grown on our farm for our members in our community with our climate and our season and its variables in any given year.
Like all farms, we have our share of crops failures due to unseasonal or extreme weather, pests and occasionally human error. However, rest assured that we have many years experience 'under our belts' now, and we are realistically confident we can supply our CSA members with a reasonably reliable, satisfying and practical array of produce across the seasons from February to July/August.
We 'hedge our bets' as best we can in our temperamental climate (700m above sea level) with poly tunnels to buffer the seasons, where possible, we cover delicate crops with row covers to help 'smooth out' sudden temperature changes or give extra warmth to seedlings, minimising impacts and generally aiding plant growth with a little weather protection. We always plant extra crops just in case. No two years/seasons are ever the same...We continue to learn and grow ourselves as farmers, learning more about the art, craft and uncovering the mysteries of it all. As it ever was, we endlessly experiment with new varieties, new planting times, different row spacing, all in the hopes of shoring up a consistent variety of produce and now even more so, as filling the CSA boxes with diversity and quality is a primary focus. We will share simple, yummy and practical weekly recipe ideas to help show our community how to enjoy new foods as well as new twists on old favourites or to help folk 'nail' classics! We aim to show our CSA community what seasonal meals actually look like and how rewarding that can be.
What We Grow for CSA
(Subject to change without notice!)
This is what we plan to grow and have ready for harvest at approximately these time frames over the year/seasons, all being fair. Remember though, Mother Nature tells us when She's ready, not the other way around....there are many variables out of our control and crop failures do occur; so we can't GUARANTEE you any specific veggies or bang on a set timing, yet we guarantee you a good value in your share each week. We aim high, but every year is different in terms of weather, potential bugs, disease and we always have the variables of unpredictable events in our fields. It is certainly our commitment to minimise the risk to you in the return on your investment and we will 'pull out all stops' to achieve this as practicable! Being a part of CSA means accepting these risks along side the farmer.
INAUGURAL SEASON - Shares were SOLD OUT & the Autumn-Winter 2017 season is now concluded! : )
MID APRIL 2017
Coriander, dill, Italian parsley, rosemary. Some mixed cherry tomatoes. Mixed beetroots, green and purple Shanghai bok choi, broccoli, carrots, cauliflowers, Elk leaf, fennel, Jerusalem artichokes, Pak Choi, Tuscan kale, purple or white kohlrabi, leeks, mixed lettuces, potatoes (Dutch Creams, Otway Reds, Blue Skins), tatsoi, Tokyo greens.
INAUGURAL SEASON - MAY - MID JUNE 2017
Coriander, dill, Italian parsley, rosemary, bayleaf. Mixed beetroots, green and purple Shanghai bok choi, broccoli, carrots, cauliflowers, Elk leaf, fennel, Jerusalem artichokes, Tuscan kale, white and purple kohlrabi, leeks, mixed lettuces, pak choi, potatoes (Dutch Creams, Otway Reds, Blue Skins), tatsoi, Tokyo greens.
INAUGURAL SEASON - LATE JUNE - JULY 2017
Italian parsley, rosemary, bayleaf. Mixed beetroots, green and purple Shanghai bok choi, broccoli, Romanesco Cauli-Broc, cabbage, carrots, cauliflowers, fennel, pak choi, Tuscan kale, white and purple kohlrabi, leeks, some lettuces, potatoes (Dutch Creams, Otway Reds), tatsoi, onions.
INAUGURAL SUPPLEMENTARY ITEMS...
For this first CSA season, as an example of an aspect of our "Share the Risk" policy, whereby we aim to minimise the 'risk' and maximise the weekly variety and value to members, we will endeavor to buy in from other local certified organic or Biodynamic farms, a small number of staples we can't grow in time for this round of autumn-winter boxes - items such as cabbages and onions.
2018 SEASON ONWARDS...
(Subject to change or addition without notice!)
Basil, coriander, dill, Italian parsley, French tarragon, oregano, rosemary. Garlic. Beans, mixed beetroots, green and purple Shanghai bok choi, capsicum, carrots, cucumbers, eggplants, Elk leaf, fennel, Jalepenos, kohlrabi, leeks, mixed lettuces, onions, spring onions, potatoes (Dutch Creams, Otway Reds, Blue Skins), rocket, tatsoi, Tokyo greens, heirloom tomatoes, heirloom cherry and red field tomatoes, zucchini and zucchini flowers.
AUTUMN: APRIL-MAY (poss. part in to June)
Coriander, dill, Italian parsley, oregano, rosemary, thyme, sage. Some tomatoes in to April if no early frosts. Mixed beetroots, green and purple Shanghai bok choi, broccoli, carrots, cauliflowers, celery, Elk leaf, fennel, Jalepenos, Jerusalem artichokes, Tuscan &/or red Russian kale, purple or white kohlrabi, leeks, mixed lettuces, onions, spring onions, snap or snow peas, potatoes (Dutch Creams, Otway Reds), rocket, silverbeet/rainbow chard, spinach, tatsoi, Tokyo greens.
WINTER: JUNE- Mid August
Italian parsley, rosemary, bay leaf. Mixed beetroots, green and purple Shanghai bok choi, broccoli, Romanesco Cauli-Broc, cabbage, carrots, cauliflowers, celery, fennel, Tuscan &/or red Russian kale, white kohlrabi, leeks, some lettuces, onions, potatoes (Dutch Creams, Otway Reds, Blue Skins), silverbeet/rainbow chard, tatsoi.
OCCASIONAL SUPPLEMENTARY ITEMS...
Although our primary commitment is to supply members with 100% Angelica Organic Farm-grown produce, there's the odd staple we can't grow either due to current farm space or micro-climate restrictions. For example, we can't reliably grow pumpkins at our farm (not enough heat for enough weeks), so some years we'll find local pumpkins when possible? We even know a wonderful BD sweet potato grower in Nth Victoria, where the heat is adequate and lasts long enough (just!) to grow sweet potatoes, so when possible we could include a short run of those? In any case, the items WILL be in season and predominantly local and not frequent inclusions.
N.B.: Spring and early summer are our local 'hungry period', when all 'over winter crops' are finished and there's not yet been enough consistent warm weather for new crops to grow/be ready. That is why we start the annual CSA in February AND also because by then everyone is back from summer holidays!
READ about the Pros and Cons of CSA on the NEXT PAGE and whether our CSA will suit YOU...
SUBMIT your APPLICATION HERE to JOIN our CSA!
2018 Summer/Autumn/Winter CSA Season..... Enjoy 28 weeks of delicious, truly seasonal organic veggies, recipes, newsletters and more... FULL DETAILS re Share Sizes and Pricing on our "How Our CSA Works" page.
Our 4 collection hubs are: MELBOURNE: 1) Alfred Crescent Nth Fitzroy, 2) Rose Street Pantry - Fitzroy and 3) HAWTHORN/KEW (locale details TBC) & DAYLESFORD (East Street)
If you would like to SIGN UP for our NEXT CSA SEASON starting FEBRUARY 2018, please fill in the form below to be added to the mailing list for notifications (SIGN UP STARTS late November. SIGN UP DEADLINE will be DECEMBER 11th, with the new CSA starting 4th FEBRUARY 2018).
A certain set number of memberships ('Shares') will be available, with sign up and payment securing your 'share'.