I am still trying to wrap my head around that statement.
My CSA site host went to a conference last week, to meet with CSA management and talk with the dozens of local site hosts in the DC metropolitan area. Our CSA, Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative, has thousands of members in seven states and the District. Using over a hundred local small farmers to offer us vegetables, fruit, meat, dairy, eggs, flowers, herbs, bread, “farm”aceuticals. You name it. Mix and match. Customize the size. Everything but home delivery and choose your own, like you would at a market.
They brought back the small share. Four items. Because people thought 7-8 items for $23 a week was too much produce. Really? Are we still putting 8-12 ounces of meat on a plate and saying we only want a couple of ounces of vegetables on that plate? I thought we were getting away from meat-centric meals.
Obviously, we aren’t. Many of my local farming friends are seeing a decline in membership, and in purchases at markets. Companies like Blue Apron are replacing CSA shares. According to the CSA management, briefing the site hosts, people want recipes. They don’t know what to do with the vegetables they get.
Never mind the fact that our CSA has a huge web site devoted to providing that information. We seem to have created a generation of people who want to be spoon fed. Tell me every week what to do with corn. With cauliflower. With fennel. With leeks. Etcetera. Etcetera.
I know. I am whining here. I just really don’t get it. We have so many choices around here, and yet, people aren’t staying on as members, with many of our local farm CSA options. Membership is declining. Friends and Farms folded. The Glenwood Market isn’t opening this year.
I hope we have our CSA again this summer. We can’t seem to find 30 people in a town as big as Columbia who want inexpensive very fresh organic food. From people who care about what we eat.
Crossing my fingers and hoping our local sources remain.
Wow, I’m sad to read that grim news. I noticed a large drop in members for the One Straw Farm’s CSA pick-up at MOM’s in Jessup last summer compared to the previous three years, and I’d guessed that that was a site-specific phenomenon because of fewer signs posted about it. BTW, March 4 is the last day to get the early season discount for One Straw Farm’s 2017 CSA. I’m still undecided about that one or LFF or Love Dove or maybe a combo!
With factors like working from home, competition for parking spaces at the Miller Branch’s farmer’s market, uncertainties about pick-ups at a private home, and others, I’ve relied a lot on Hometown Harvest’s deliveries over the past year. However, for several reasons, I’m planning to modify that.
We still have a CSA membership, and are maintaining it for 2017, but I have to say that I DO sometimes have trouble using all the veggies in our share (full share, Breezy Willow). We are a family of 4, but kid picky-ness is not always predictable. And with 2 full time jobs + kid activities, it can be hard to find the time to prep in the right timeframe. I always groan when I see sprouts, partly because I’m not a huge fan, but mostly because they don’t keep long, and in a given week we may not have the right time to eat them while they’re fresh.
For our family it’s not about not wanting to eats lots of veggies (ok, for the grownups) or not wanting to prep them, it’s about logistics and a general lack of time. That’s a problem too, but a different one, and speaks to why Blue Apron etc. are succeeding. When you’re already overwhelmed by jobs and life, figuring out what to do with food can feel like a lot. For us there is a tension among eating at home + eating healthfully + eating together, and sometimes the veggies lose out.
We considered the home delivery that Breezy Willow is introducing, but since one of their pickup sites is on the campus of our jobs, we’re sticking with that for 2017.