Sliding Scale

Many CSA groups have chosen to create a sliding scale payment option for their members. Sliding scale structures can be as simple or as complex as your group feels is necessary to meet your communities needs. However, whatever payment structure is decided on, the farm needs to be assured that the total amount of money they receive is equal to the price they set for each share multiplied by the number of shares your CSA sells.  For an in depth discussion on Flexible Payment Options, you can attend a workshop on the topic during our Monthly Workshop Series.

Sliding Scales Work Best:

  1. In mixed income neighborhoods where there is both the need for lower cost shares and the ability of some members to pay a higher price
  2. When CSA has its own bank account and checks are written to the CSA rather than to the farm. It is easier to balance the amount of money coming in from each payment tier and the amount that is sent to the farm if the CSA can track this and send lump payments to the farm. Additionally, if more members join at the highest tier than at the lowest tier there may be extra money which can be saved for subsidies for the next season or to pay costs such as transportation for a farm trip. It is easier if the farm does not have to track this extra money.

Options for Sliding Scale Structure:

  1. Three payment levels with an equal spread in the dollar amount between each payment level. Target numbers for each tier can be set (ie. 15 members at Tier 1 and 15 members at tier 3) or it can be flexible during recruitment with some limits to the number of tier 3 shares.

    Tier 1: Higher income level --> $550
    Tier 2: Farmer’s share price--> $450
    Tier 3: Lower income level---> $350

    There is an equal spread of $100 between each tier. Need equal numbers of members at high and low levels.
  2. Two or more payment levels with unequal spread between the payment levels. Target numbers for each tier should be set to insure full payment (i.e. 15 members at tier 2 and at least 30 members at tier 1)

    Tier 1: Higher income level-->$500 ($50 over the farmer price of $450)
    Tier 2: Lower income level--> $350 ($100 less than farmer price of $450)

    Will need twice as many members at high level as members at lower level.

Deciding eligibility for payment levels:

  1. Income levels of eligibility vary per group and should reflect the overall income levels of the neighborhood in which your CSA is located.
  2. Most groups treat their income levels as guidelines and do not ask for proof of income. Some groups have offered their lowest payment tier only to members who are on government benefits and ask for proof of those benefits.

    Tier 1: Higher income level-->$550 (Household income is $65,000 or above)
    Tier 2: Farmer’s share price-->$450(Household income is between $35,000 and $65,000)
    Tier 3: Lower income level---> $350 (Household income is below $35,000)


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