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For immediate release:
Feb. 28, 2011
WASHINGTON STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
P.O. Box 42560, Olympia, Washington
This news release is also available as a
Popularity of local farm produce subscriptions grows
Growers taking orders now for Community Supported
Agriculture deliveries in spring
OLYMPIA — Consumer interest in buying
locally grown fruits and vegetables is prompting growth
in farm-direct sales, including the number of farmers
delivering boxes of freshly harvested produce to
workplaces. Despite recent cold, snowy weather, farmers
are taking orders now; encouraging people to buy shares
early to ensure produce for spring.
Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA)
estimates more than 200 Community Supported Agriculture
(CSA) operations are in business across the state.
Farmers often have customers pick up their weekly
produce boxes at their farm or at a central drop point,
but increasingly growers are offering to come to the
worksite, making it even more convenient for consumers.
Members of a CSA subscription buy a share of a
farm’s crops early in the year, well before harvest or
even before planting. Produce subscribers pay for the
entire season—which typically covers 18 to 24 weeks—or
make a down payment and then monthly payments.
Small produce shares range in costs from about $18-$25 a
week. Large shares run about $30-$38 a week. Typical
boxes include a variety of seasonal produce such as
lettuce, peas, tomatoes, carrots, strawberries and
chard. Some growers include flowers. Farmers often
include a weekly newsletter of farm happenings, a list
of what’s in the box, and recipes that incorporate
produce in the box.
“Paying in advance allows
growers to get working capital directly without a loan,”
said Patrice Barrentine, direct marketing coordinator
with WSDA’s Small Farm & Direct Marketing Program. “The
pre-sales allow farmers to plan production and have a
secure market for their harvest.”
state-sponsored pilot project last year shows how
popular this innovative marketing tool is becoming.
Farmers achieved sales of $150,000 through weekly
produce box deliveries to the Natural Resources Building
in Olympia and other state facilities.
Wellness, a unit in the state Health Care Authority, has
created an easy-to-use manual on how employers can
organize deliveries to their workplace.
“Washington Wellness was an enthusiastic supporter and
partner for starting produce deliveries to state
offices,” Barrentine said. “They see it as a great way
to encourage employees to eat healthy foods. The manual
was developed as a guide to set up CSA deliveries to
public agencies, but it would work equally well for the
State employees were very
enthusiastic about the produce program. According to a
customer survey, 92% of the employees liked the
convenience of picking up their boxes at work and 77%
liked the quality and freshness of the produce. They
also reported eating more fruits and vegetables.
A CSA agreement is between a farmer and a customer, not
a public agency or business providing the pickup site.
The worksite space requirements aren’t extensive—maybe a
couple hundred square feet.
At a time when new
employee benefits are becoming scarce, the advantages of
allowing a farmer to bring wholesome produce to willing
employees at the workplace are numerous.
“Employees appreciate the opportunity to buy fresh,
seasonal fruits and vegetables at work and employers can
benefit through promotion of a healthier workforce,”
To learn more about the benefits
of CSA operations, visit the
Washington Wellness website at
The site includes:
- A toolkit for establishing a CSA site at the
- Website links to sources for finding farms that
- Information on the benefits of consuming fruits
and vegetables, and
- A link to healthy seasonal recipes.
WSDA’s Small Farm & Direct Marketing Program
fosters direct-market sales by farmers to capture a
higher percentage of the retail food dollar. Direct
sales include CSA subscriptions, on-farm sales,
farmers markets, Internet sales, agri-tourism, and
sales to grocery stores, cafeterias and restaurants.
Visit the WSDA website at http://agr.wa.gov/ and
click on the marketing button to locate the
Small Farm & Direct Marketing Handbook: Regulations
and Strategies for Farm Businesses in Washington
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