Payment Over Time
Paying the whole cost of a share upfront may be difficult for some community members who would like to join a CSA. Your group may be able to work together with your farmer to develop payment plans allowing members to pay in installments, in order to make payment feasible for as many people as possible. One of the advantages of CSA for farmers is receiving income when they need it to prepare for the season. However, most farmers recognize that this is often hard for members to do and are willing to be flexible. Below are some options for how payments over time can be structured.
Payment Plan Options:
1. Before the Beginning of the Season: with this option members are asked to make an initial deposit to hold their share and then to make payments so that the total share cost has been paid by the first day of distribution.
a. Core groups can give members dates that their payments are due such as the first day or last day of the month. This minimizes the time the core group spends collecting money from members.
b. Core groups can ask members to choose days on which they will make their payments. This allows members to pay on dates which work with their budget.
2. Into the Season: with this option members are able to spread their payments out over a portion of the season. The benefit to this structure is that each payment can be smaller to make it more affordable for members. Because the members will not have paid for the entire season before they begin receiving produce some ground rules can be helpful to ensure that the farmer receives his or her full payment and that the core group is not placed in an awkward position. It is helpful if these rules are written out in the membership agreement form.
a. A non-refundable down payment, equivalent to at least the cost of one month of produce, made before the start of the season ensures that the member takes the season-long commitment seriously.
b. The down payment covers the last month of produce.
c. If a member drops out of the CSA before the end of the season, they lose the down payment.
d. The core group uses the down payment to pay for the share for up to a month while a new member is found. The farmer continues to deliver the share for that month.
e. The member agrees to a “2-week policy”: that is, if they miss 2 weeks of payments in a row, their share can be sold.
With agreement from your farmer, your CSA can decide how much you will ask members to pay at each installment and on what time schedule. CSAs who offer payment with food stamps will collect payment every two weeks throughout the season. It is important to give receipts for payment for your and your member’s records.