Monday, May 27, 2013

Sharing in the Win/Win Approach of Marini Farm's Bounty with a CSA

Marini Farm's Harvest of fresh fruits and vegetables will be boxed and ready for pick up each Wednesday by the more than 200 CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) participants.

CSAs have become a popular way for customers to pay for their shares of the harvest upfront, and then receive product "dividends" as produce becomes available. Or, to put it another way: A CSA is a win/win approach that gives Marini Farm upfront money at the start of the season when it is needed the most to buy its seeds and supplies to produce food. Customers, in turn, feel more connected to the farm by investing in crops ahead of time, then coming weekly to pick up their shares of fresh produce.

The CSA, which Marini Farm started in 2011, has become so popular that it is fully subscribed for the 2013 growing season, with a waiting list already begun for 2014.

Customers who have invested in Marini Farms' CSA help preserve what has been one of the largest growing vegetable farms on the North Shore for more than 80 years.

"Our CSA is a great way to receive locally grown delicious fruits and vegetables at up to 20 to 50 percent the cost if you purchased the same quality at a supermarket," noted owner Mike Marini. "Local produce travels far less than grocery produce by as much as 1,500 miles which ensures a higher level of freshness."

Other benefits of joining Marini's CSA

Being part of Marini Farm's CSA creates a sense of community as most customers will attest to it being fun to come each week to pick up their boxed items and mingle with others on the farm.

 Other benefits include:
  • The ability to try a full variety of fruits and vegetables, and perhaps discover new and unusual produce you like that you may not have eaten before.
  • A "swap system" whereby if customers find there is something they do not want in their share upon arrival, they can opt to place it in a swap bin, from which they may choose a replacement item. The swap bin is filled with excess produce from the field and the farm stand. Based on an honor system, the swap system expects a customer to put back into the bin approximately what he or she took out, allowing other CSA members to enjoy the swap throughout the day.
  • Receiving fresh produce each week on schedule helps customers maintain a commitment to eating their vegetables.
  • Higher quality: local vegetables and fruits in season are the freshest and most flavorful produce available.
  • Eating produce based on IPM (Integrated Pest Management), which Marini Farm has used for more than three decades and considers to be the safest method of producing crops.
  • Pick-up day can be a great social event to share recipes and stories.
  • Fruit is added to shares at no additional cost (most other CSAs offer a separate fruit share). 
If you are away, you can pass your share to a friend and have them manage the pick-up. Many members bring their kids to help pick up the produce. Kids also have access to play structures on pick-up day, so it becomes a fun family errand to run.

How Marini Farm's CSA Works

To become a CSA member of Marini Farms, customers may download an application for next year from: Marini Farm CSA membership or pick up an application at the farm stand and mail it back to Marini Farm. Upon receiving applicants' information, Marini Farm will automatically place them on its mailing list so they can receive up-to-date information regarding their investment in the farm.

There are two share types in which to purchase:

1. Large:  Comfortably feeds four people and will have a weekly value of $30-plus on average. Its costs are $695, with a $50 deposit required to secure a spot in the CSA. A payment of $300 is due in March, with the remaining balance due in May, 2014.

2. Small: Feeds two people and will have a weekly value of $17-plus on average. Its cost is $395. A $50 deposit is required with payment due in March, 2014. Upon request, other payment options are always available.

The reason for the upfront money is that a CSA is designed to help absorb the yearly start-up costs that the beginning of a growing season entails. Early production starts in the greenhouses during February and planting in the fields in March.

"By receiving payment in March we hope to be able to pay for the cost of seeds and lessen the yearly start-up loans," Marini explained. "By May, we are now paying a full staff to plant and maintain the growing crops on more than 200 acres, which is how we grow the quality of produce that has built the excellent reputation of Marini Farm for eight decades."

Specific details of CSA hours, pick up, and special events, along with listings of available fresh produce, will be listed on the Marini Farm CSA site throughout the CSA season which runs from June 5th through October 2nd. 

Pick-up of CSA Shares

CSA members' shares are picked up each Wednesday, starting on June 5th, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Members may designate someone else to make the pick-up. For those who run late, they may call the farm ahead, and their share will be left outside for pick up between 6:30 and 9 p.m., after which time it will be taken in. Any missed pick-ups will be donated to charity. Credits are not available, nor can missed pick-ups be carried over.

Written by Blogger Pros.