Community-supported agriculture shares come in all shapes in sizes, and like most things in this city, choosing the right one for your lifestyle can be confusing. Don’t want to commit to getting one every week? GrowNYC’s Fresh Food Box lets you order their $12 box on a week by week basis and accepts EBT cards. For the solid food-averse, Long Island City is leading a new trend in nanobreweries with beer CSAs.
To help you further navigate your options as sign-up season rolls around, we’re hosting “Community Supported What? Demystifying the CSA Movement” next Wednesday, April 8 at 8:00 p.m. at the Brooklyn Brewery. The panel discussion, moderated by our digital editor Lauren Wilson, will demystify the movement. On the docket: pricing and payment options, where to start, and what to do with a lifetime supply of rutabagas. “The goal is to break down different options available to New Yorkers and hopefully help attendees find an arrangement that best suits their individual lifestyles,” says Wilson.
We’ve lined up a panel of experts including Julia Megson of Farmigo, which began as a software management platform for CSAs. They now facilitate a slightly different model which allows “Communities” with hosts in schools and offices to set their own pickup sites and source from several farms at once.
Danielle Wiedemann, a panelist from the Lexington Avenue CSA. Wiedemann is aware of some of the misconceptions that customers bring to the table. “I am always surprised that people say the CSA is expensive… as soon as you break it down into weekly pricing, just about everyone comes around to seeing it is actually very affordable.”
Qiana Mickie, another panelist and CSA Network Manager at Just Food, will bring a big picture perspective to the panel. The Just Food Network has over 110 member CSAs, and they do great work to provide CSA coordinators with a suite of workshops and resource materials. They’re even starting a series of borough-specific meetings to help CSA organizers network and share experiences. “We help groups that strive to make their CSAs as reflective and inclusive as the neighborhood they are in,” she says of their mission. “As new food access models such as buying clubs, box farm shares, and delivery services continue to enter the market, people find it harder to differentiate between these models and CSA.” She’ll help us wrap our heads around the unique issues inherent in starting or supporting a CSA.
Panelist Josh Cook is a cofounder of Nextdoorganics, an online CSA that lets customers shop online and schedule deliveries. They’re leading the way in supporting small-scale farmers by starting a fund that provides cash advances to new producers along with storage space and business development advice. They’re also hoping to start accepting EBT payments and expand their distribution to accommodate overnight shipping across the East Coast. “We are trying to build a scalable model of local food production and distribution by developing strong relationships with our sources and making it as easy as possible for our customers to support them,” Cook says. They’re in the midst of a Barnraiser campaign to jumpstart this project- help them out here.
Whether or not you end up signing up for a CSA or you’re just looking for an excuse to drink beer on a weeknight in Williamsburg, we’re hoping to see you next Wednesday. And we promise to go light on the rutabagas.