Over the past few months, we have been working on bringing a handful of new farms on to HarvestHand. A formal introduction has been long overdue, and in the next few posts I'll be introducing each.
It has been a pleasure working closely with Tim Livingstone of the newly minted Strawberry Hill Farm to get their CSA operation up on the Internet. Tim, Kristen and family took up residence on the farm the summer of 2011, and have been working diligently to launch their box program this coming summer.
Tim and Kristen are experienced growers. Both have many years experience in the greenhouse industry. More recently, Tim was the grower for Jolly Roger's outdoor vegetables and was heavily involved in running their weekly box program. Now at their new family farm, they have been working on getting it up and running and are in the process of achieving organic certification. You can listen to a CBC interview with Tim where he talks about the ins and outs of setting the farm up.
The Livingstone's farm is located in Pembroke, New Brunswick, and will offer CSA pickup options at the farm, Fredericton, Woodstock, and Hartland. They are currently offering two different weekly boxes: a veggie / fruit box that will cover a range of up to 40 different varieties of veggies and fruit, and an egg box. The box program runs from June to November.
The RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce), has a competition going on now that invites film makers to turn RSA talks into, well films. Two of the entries focus on a great talk by Michael Pollan titled Food Rules for Healthy People and Planet. The original talk is found below as well as the two short films based on the talk. Feel inspired? Vote for your favorite!
CBC TV's Land and Sea broadcast a piece yesterday profiling 3 farms run here in the Annapolis Valley. The focus of the episode titled Young Farmers looks at how three farms -- Wild Mountain Farm, Waxwing Farm, and HarvestHand's very own Taproot Farms -- are thinking creatively to meet the challenges of farming today by farming organically and utilizing a CSA model to go to market. A nice watch!
Innovative local Community Shared Fishery Off the Hook recognized by National Geographic sponsored Turning the Tide for Coastal Fisheries. The CBC has a nice video news pieces posted about the Off the Hook:
In my mind, local foods are best consumed direct from the producer in order to maximize the benefits of regional economics. As outlined in Food+Tech's summary, local food in the US has grown four times since previous studies. And that is good news.
However, most of food dollars that passes through the local economy is not direct to consumer, but through distributors, grocers, and restaurants. Farm markets, farm stores, and CSAs are representative of a much smaller slice of the local food pie.
Why this big divide when my unschooled mind assumes that there are greater profit margins to be had with direct to consumer models? The study explains this by pointing to a lack of infrastructure and appropriate technologies available to farmers to successfully run a direct to consumer program.
Hopefully tools like HarvestHand will help solve this problem and make direct to consumer CSA programs a more profitable and accessible vehicle for farm operators.
Also, the info outlined also seems to hint at another reason why this is so. Of the direct to consumer platforms that farms are leveraging, CSA programs only represent a measly 1% among small farm operators and is not even on the map for large farm operators. Direct to consumer means farm markets, farm stands, and on farm stores. These are important vehicles, however I don't see how these platforms can be scaled out to meet the needs of a largely urbanized consumer base. I suspect that given the relative youth of the CSA model, there is a lot of untapped potential to be won here.
Clearly, local food is a growing sector of the food economy. I also can see a great opportunity for farmers leveraging appropriate tools winning big building the new direct to consumer economy with CSA programs.