Ever wonder what happened to the good old days of knowing your farmer and your food?
Wonder no more. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is changing the face of business. It is a slow but steady fight against the current of the modern world, but it’s working.
What the heck is a CSA, and what’s the benefit to belonging to one?
CSA is short for “Community Supported Agriculture.” It began in the 1960s in Germany, Switzerland, and Japan, as cooperative partnerships to help fund and run local farms. Here’s how it works: the local community, known as “shareholders,” pay at the onset of the growing season to help the farmer with the costs of the forthcoming harvest season. When the harvesting begins, the shareholders are given weekly shares of produce and goods in return for their initial fee.
Think of it as a grocery subscription. The best part is… You can help your local economy by belonging to a CSA!
The current world we live in has been starved for decades, and we’re often tricked into thinking that we can’t play a part in local economy. Well, I am here to tell you that that is wrong! In fact, I bet you’d be surprised by the number of results if you Googled “local CSA” with your zip code (you can also visit LocalHarvest for area-specific results). That’s because these businesses are very much on the rise.
How are these community-supported farms so successful?
One word: NETWORKING!
The intricate marketing and distribution of CSAs is really quite remarkable, and a lot of their methods can be implemented in many different businesses. Even I was shocked to learn about the intricate business plans and lessons that farmers can teach. Believe it or not, farmers are truly the unheard heroes of the business world. It is more than just digging dirt and planting seeds; unless you are using that as a metaphor for the way CSAs market themselves.
Our first lesson is just that. CSAs must first plant the seed of interest, because this is purely a business that runs on its customers and supporters. Not to mention, because it is a booming business, CSA farms don’t have primary competition other than corporate industries. CSA and local farms all network with one another to help protect and promote this raging change that is happening. It is a powerful community of physical and social networking that keeps these businesses growing as they change, adapt and learn from one another.
Most CSAs have to learn how to market their business in very clever and invasive ways. I am a firm believer that CSAs are making a strong comeback because of the social media platforms we have access to today. It is really neat to connect two things that are completely different: in this case, something old and something new. Most CSAs advertise and market themselves using various social media platforms and education programs. They are also notorious for their community outreach programs to help their communities understand the importance of this type of business.
Another lesson? Know your customers! I can’t think of a better business example that is more engrained with good customer service and support. CSAs would cease to be if they weren’t customer savvy. They have to always have a plan, and keep detailed open lines of constant communication and information.
The CSA industry is a prime example of how networking is a lifeline to the survival of your business. If we take away what we know of about the importance of networking and creative marketing, there is no telling just how successful you can be.
What can we take away from CSA strategies (I couldn’t resist throwing in a few puns):
- Network like you “bet the farm” then you’ll see that “mighty oaks from little acorns grow.”
- Market yourself as the “cream of the crop” and do it “until the cows come home.”
- Always communicate and listen to what your customers are saying. Remember, “you reap what you sow.”