Additional Shares and Products
What are Additional Products/Shares?
As CSA in NYC has grown, members have become interested in sourcing more items, in addition to vegetables, from local farmers. Some CSA members want the convenience of getting additional products such as fruit, meat, milk, eggs, cheese, flowers, honey and value added products at their CSA distribution site and also to support local farms as much as possible. CSA vegetable farmers can decide whether they have the capacity themselves to supply more products in addition to vegetables to the CSA. If the farmer is not interested in offering additional products, the CSA group can individually source these from other farmers with the agreement of the vegetable farmer.
Where Do Additional Products Come From?
There are three ways that CSAs in NYC have been getting these additional products.
1. Some CSA vegetable farms are already producing these items and making them available to their members in the form of “Additional Shares”. These Additional Share prices and sizes depend on the product and what would be a reasonable amount for 1-3 people.
2. Farms that do not produce these additional products on the farm often connect with a neighboring farm that produces them. Together, farmers coordinate ordering, delivery, and profit sharing for the additional products. The vegetable farmer will drop off the additional products with the vegetables.
3. If the vegetable farmer is not interested in either of the above systems, CSA groups may also develop a relationship with another provider through the Just Food Additional Products list. This list, compiled by Just Food, has Additional Product providers organized by product. It has contact information for farms in the NYC region that are interested in selling meat, fruit, dairy, and other products to CSAs in NYC. These products are delivered by that provider to the CSA distribution site for pick up at the same time as the vegetable share distribution.
Ordering Systems for Additional Products
Additional shares have been purchased in two ways:
1. As season-long shares (similar to the set up of regular CSA shares). This is most typical for fruit or egg shares that last the entire growing season. Members will pay the farmer up front for a pre-determined amount/share of the product. For some items such as eggs, the farmer will aim to send a dozen or a half dozen each week to members. For items like fruit, the farmer will send a selection of fruit that matches the value that the customer paid for that week. Like in vegetable CSAs, there is an element of risk-sharing with this system. If a predator attacks the chickens, the CSA members may receive less than a dozen eggs for a few weeks.
2. As weekly or monthly orders. This is most common for meat and dairy products. This allows the additional product farmer to offer what he/she has available, but it requires more administration on the part of the farm and the CSA in terms of taking and receiving orders and payments from all members. Some farmers have created online ordering systems so that CSA members can choose weekly what products they would like to order. The farm lists what is available on the website. Members pay for the products as they order them electronically.
The following are some steps that farmers and CSA members could take to set up Additional Product ordering systems:
1. Administrative Work - The CSA core group should first decide if they are willing to take on the additional administrative work that is necessary for having additional products. It is recommended that there are one or two members that can focus on the administrative work related to additional products. Administrative work entails keeping track of orders, payments and handling any problems that may arise so that members do not have to contact the farm about questions regarding their share.
2. Additional Product Interest - The CSA core group should assess which additional products are desired by their members. Unlike vegetable shares, each member does not have to partake in an additional product share. For this reason, it is important to know how many of your members are interested so it is worthwhile for both the CSA group and farmer. This can be done in multiple ways; a survey can be conducted to gage members' interest, sending out a request in the CSA newsletter for members to let the core group know which additional products they would like to receive, and informally speaking to members at distribution.
3. Available Additional Products - After your core group has a general idea of your groups’ interest, the group and farmer (either the vegetable farmer or the additional product farmer) should have a conversation about what potential products could be distributed through the CSA. At this meeting, the CSA should have an idea of the amount of products, kinds of products, and frequency with which they would like to order. The farmer should know which products they have available, in what quantities, and also how frequently they are available.
4. Share Quantities - After the initial discussion, the farm will follow up with the CSA group to let them know the price and size of the share, and how many will be available. If using an ordering system, the farm will send the CSA more details on how orders will be placed.
5. Record Keeping - The CSA group and farm should come up with a system for keeping track of the members, (if using a share) or how to keep track of orders (if using a weekly/monthly ordering system). The group and farm should also come up with a payment system. Keep in mind that money cannot be exchanged at some distribution sites, such as Green Thumb Gardens and NYC Parks.
6. Trouble Shooting - The farm and core group should come up with a system for how to deal with mistakes made in shares/orders throughout the season.
7. Staying in Touch - Throughout the season, as products are being delivered, the CSA should be in regular contact with the farm to make sure that systems used to deliver additional products have been working well.
8. Compensation – Some CSA vegetable farmers will give a CSA a few complimentary shares each season. Some CSAs use these shares to subsidize the price of shares so as to increase mixed income membership; others, use these shares to compensate core members for the extra work they put into the CSA. It is important to keep in mind that these shares are donated by the vegetable farmer and not the additional product provider (if your additional product provider is different than your vegetable farmer). In the case that a CSA uses complimentary shares to compensate core group members, it is suggested that an alternate form of compensation be given to the Additional Product Coordinator, since the work they are being compensated for is to benefit the additional product farmer.