Local CSA Farmers Rely on Risk-Sharing Program During Wet Season Start

Updated: 06/23/2014 6:47 PM
Created: 06/23/2014 6:11 PM
By: Kate Renner

After a waterlogged planting season, farmers of all kinds are feeling the pressure, including farmers of a CSA, or a Community Supported Agriculture farm.

There are 85 CSA farms in Minnesota where you can buy a share of the farm before the season started and get a box of fresh, local produce every week. It's a shared-risk program, which just like any farm depends a lot on the weather.

This planting season the clouds have opened up nearly every day on Chris James' first harvest at Fresh Earth Farms in Afton. He says the crops are smaller than he'd like.

"I feel like I have to apologize to them when they come and pick up their boxes, because they look at it and think I spent $540, and this is what I'm going to get this week?" said Chris James, owner of Fresh Earth Farms.

"There's a person I know that's taking on the risk, and I've agreed to take a share in it," said Scott Sinks, member of Fresh Earth Farms CSA. Sinks doesn't worry about where his food comes from.

"I know what Chris does on the farm, how Chris grows things, I know where the food comes from," Sinks said.

Every member gets to take home a load of vegetables every week, for 19 weeks. But what they take home differs greatly based on Mother Nature and what's in season.

During last week’s rains, potato beetles hatched and feasted, before James could spray organic pesticides.

"So they had about 4-5 days of free range on the potatoes," James said.

James says the wet weather also caused some erosion this spring. But James says no matter the weather challenge, he has the assurance that 160 families will be his safety net.

"It's basically my insurance policy," James said.

"There's a person I know that's taking on the risk, and I've agreed to take a share in it," Sinks said.

"I'm very thankful that we have CSA members to help us keep the farm going for this early part of the year," James said.

On Monday Fresh Earth Farms was offering its CSA members green onions, green garlic, lettuce, bok choy and swiss chard.

Minneapolis/St. Paul

73° | 50°
  • Feels like: 70° F
  • Wind: WSW 13mph
  • Humidity: 78%