The Gadbois Family

We bought our farm in Barre in 2011, after several years of searching for a place in which to raise dairy… [more]

The Gadbois Family The Gadbois Family

Farmshares

Download, print, and return our TERMS and APPLICATION What is CSA? CSA (community supported agriculture)… [more]

Farmshares Farmshares

About Renaissance Farms

Situated on nearly 300 acres of preserved land on the Barre-Oakham border, Renaissance Farms was created… [more]

About Renaissance Farms About Renaissance Farms

Partners and Friends

Partnering with other family farmers is a great way to support other farm operations while being able… [more]

Partners and Friends Partners and Friends

Forward Contracting

Caterers.  Restaurants.  Breweries.  Specialty Food Shops.   Because you care about offering… [more]

Forward Contracting Forward Contracting

What We Offer

The following is a list of products we currently have available, or will soon have available: Hay… [more]

What We Offer What We Offer

Visiting Us

***Call or email to arrange your outing*** There is currently no charge for outdoor adventure activities.… [more]

Visiting Us Visiting Us

Production Location

Renaissance Farms is an historically important location, available for television, film, and print projects. The… [more]

Production Location Production Location

Working Here

"My worst day on the farm is still better than my best day in an office" - Nissa Gadbois Farm work… [more]

Working Here Working Here

Our Core Values

The Dignity of Every Human Person is Paramount. We believe that every person has innate value, that… [more]

Our Core Values Our Core Values

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is not for Everyone

by Brian and Nissa on October 8, 2014

Farming is a capital intensive business.  It requires land, equipment, and supplies to produce just about any agricultural product.  And the more diversified the farm, the more capital it requires.  Cash flow is also a major concern for farmers.  Farmers expenses are highest at times sales are lowest – over the winter in order to feed animals when pasture is not available and in the spring when supplies for the yearly planting is required.  Farmers do not receive income for these costs until months later – in the summer and autumn harvest times.  And even when these risks are managed, the farmer also has to deal with Mother Nature, who can be very unpredictable.

CSA is a concept that has developed over time to help your local farmer with these realities.  In this model, the Community Supports a local farmer by paying up front what they would otherwise purchase from them later in the season at harvest time, at a time when the farm is preparing the farm for the year.  These Community participants Partner with their farmer/farm family both financially and with additionally physical and emotional support over the growing season.  In exchange, the farm typically provides the first fruits to their CSA members at a price that is usually lower than if purchased at farmstand.  Hence the farmer and CSA member develop a constant relationship over the season with the member’s regular presence at the farm.

We have found that this type of arrangement is not suited for many people, even those who are experienced CSA customers.  Most people are biased toward the grocery store model of buying food where large quantities of many varieties are shipped from around the world for customers to pick and choose from year round.  This food is weeks old when you get it, and much of it is thrown away by the store.

This is what most of our generation grew up with, and could eventually end up destroying all small family farms as most of us cannot compete with the low margins, the varieties offered, and the amount of waste it leads to.  Strangely, this is exactly the mentality the CSA concept attempts to correct – but it takes many active members to make it possible.

  • If you start looking for a CSA farm in May or June as you see road side stands start selling vegetables, or the local home store opening their garden shop, CSA is probably not for you.  Those vegetables on the road side stand were planted in greenhouses in February or March.  Your farmer needs your commitment then, not after it’s already been grown.
  • If you are “too busy” to make a commitment to meet your farmer regularly, CSA is probably not for you.  Over 70% of all farms receive most of their income from full time jobs outside the farm.  But most farmers spend an equal amount of time raising food for the love of it.  That wry smile on your farmer’s face when you tell them you are too busy usually comes with the thought “you don’t know what too busy is.”
  • If you come to the farm once or twice a season expecting to pick up hundreds of dollars in food raised by your farmer, CSA is probably not for you.  Farming is very seasonal.  Some weeks have an abundance of produce, some weeks there is almost nothing.  Farmers work hard to ensure a steady supply over the season and not to get in a position where produce is wasted.
  • If you are expecting the quantities and amount of varieties in a grocery store, CSA is probably not for you.  Let face it, most of produce in grocery stores are shipped from other parts of the world.  Local farmers cannot grow everything that is found in the grocery store.  And the more different varieties they do grow, the more capital required to grow it.  It is a fine balancing act for the farmer.
  • If you expect the food produced on a local farm to cost what like product costs in a grocery store, CSA is probably not for you.  That grocery store food was likely grown on a factory farm with a million pounds of others, using huge equipment by underpaid immigrant workers, at a few cents above cost.  Your local farmer can’t produce enough at that price to earn a living.

So what we found out this year is that CSA is not for us.  There are not enough people out there that understand these conditions.  We are one of the 70%+ of farms that is financially supported by full time employment outside the farm.  There is not enough time in our day to teach customers that might be willing what “Community Support” means.  We are not currently in a position to compete for the 1 in 100 customers out there who are committed, but most likely already partner with another farm.  So we will not be offering CSA shares next year.  We will be restructuring our entire operation and focusing our energy on fewer products in greater quantity with less stress of having something available all the time.  We ask that you keep an eye on our progress and come by as you like and buy what we have when we have it and keep us in your prayers.  God Bless.

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