In 2017, YYC Growers established it’s Harvest Box program based on the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model.
WHAT IS COMMUNITY SUPPORTED AGRICULTURE?
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a sustainable food model that connects consumers with farmers. It's a partnership between the two groups, where consumers pay for a share of the farm's harvest up front and in return receive regular orders of fresh product (veggies, eggs, meat, flowers, grain, etc.) throughout the growing season.
This model reflects a more traditional value system; when we first established an agrarian lifestyle, there was a shared sense of both responsibility and risk. If the crop was to fail, the loss was shared and when the harvest was bountiful, the abundance was shared.
To accommodate consumer buying habits, many farms (including us) have evolved their subscription model away from up-front-payment plans, but still live by the values of CSA and embody many of the elements including:
- Connecting consumers to their farmers
- Educating people about what they’re eating and where it comes from
- Seasonal availability and eating habits
- Building community through local markets and pickup locations
- Sustainable and regenerative agriculture practices
- Supporting the local economy
- Reduction of food and material waste
CSA programs help to promote responsible environmental stewardship and health by encouraging consumers to consume local products that are grown with less pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals than those imported from other countries or states.
It's also a great way to build community; many CSAs offer opportunities for members to volunteer in the fields or at events like harvest festivals, where they can meet other members and share their knowledge about farming practices.
For farmers that are part of a CSA model (as is YYC Growers), building relationships with other local farmers is key—farmers can learn from each other by sharing resources such as tools or seeds; hosting events together; collaborating on projects like composting programs for schools; creating marketing materials together...the possibilities are endless.
“Community-supported agriculture is all about relationships and feeding families,” said Simon Huntley, CEO of Small Farm Central, a company that provides marketing support for small farms and started CSA Day. “CSA farmers typically teach members what’s in season throughout the year, and help them appreciate and cook food to which they may not otherwise be exposed.”
OUR CSA STRUCTURE
YYC Growers exists to provide a framework that connects Calgary communities to their farmers to ensure a healthy and sustainable future—rooted in the values of CSA.
It is a tragedy of our conventional food system that only apx. 21%* of each dollar spent actually goes back to the farmer growing your food. Whereas, YYC Growers can proudly say that between 55 to 65% of each dollar you spend with us, gets back to the actual person producing your food.
Typically, the people who benefit from the conventional food system are the distributors, retailers, and wholesalers—the many, many steps between the land growing that food and the supermarket.
The geographical proximity of our producers naturally allows us to minimize costs such as transportation and import fees which contribute to the many “cuts” to your dollar until it gets back to the farmer. While our prices may not be lower than the supermarket, your dollar is going to farmers and the local economy, not to a large conglomerate or import fees.
Because of your support, our farmers are able to add health and resilience to our soil, waterways, economies, and communities. You know who is growing your food and can count on it reaching your table. Farmers know who is eating their food and can count on a market for their work.
It’s sustainability and resilience in action, and you make it happen!
FOR THE FUTURE
CSA programs are beneficial for both the community and the consumer. They make it easier for people to establish a connection to their food, and provide an opportunity to eat healthier while supporting local farmers and their businesses.
As you can see, there are many benefits associated with CSAs; however there is one more thing that makes this type of agriculture so great: it's a great way for us and our farmers to engage in meaningful conversations with you—our YYC Growers customers!
Do you have feedback for us?
What are you enjoying / what are you not enjoying / frequency / need a new pickup location / times extended?
How does your feedback help?
Your feedback makes our work better and encourages us to grow new or more types of produce.
This info can/is passed back to farmers who can plant crops according to what customers really want to eat—part of integrated circular feedback system. Because we’re so connected, we can be more nimble and connected—what you say and think makes a difference to our organization!
Your YYC Growers Team