About the Coalition
This directory is a collaborative effort of CSA farmers in the Hudson Valley who share a common desire to bring the CSA experience to more of their neighbors and community members. Inspired by Wisconsin’s FairShare CSA Coalition, the Hudson Valley CSA Coalition is a network facilitated by Glynwood of more than 100 farms in this region (and growing). Through a series of strategic initiatives, our goal is to recruit first-time CSA members; to expand the local CSA member base of area farms; and to make CSA a familiar and accessible option for everyone in the Hudson Valley.
RECRUITING FIRST-TIME CSA MEMBERS
The retention rate of CSA members is incredibly high: once people realize how awesome it is to eat fresh food all season long, they rarely look back. But communicating the value of CSA to people who have never signed up for a share before can be a real marketing issue for farmers. First-time members are hesitant to commit the time and money. They’re nervous about getting things in their share that they don’t know how to use and wasting food.
In an effort to help our Coalition farms recruit new members, the Hudson Valley CSA Coalition hired an outside consultant to conduct market research on CSA membership in the Hudson Valley. From 2017-2018, Russell Research conducted interviews with 300 CSA members and 300 non-members to evaluate awareness of, interest in, and considerations when purchasing Community Supported Agriculture shares. The results were very interesting (take a look here), and have helped farmers in our region refine their marketing strategies to cater to the interests, expectations, and needs of potential members.
The Hudson Valley CSA Coalition does marketing on behalf of our member farms, too. Every spring, we launch a region-wide CSA promotional campaign. Our series of social media posts and ads explain what CSA is, who our farmers are, and why CSA is such an important model in the Hudson Valley. We publish blogs and farm directories in Edible Hudson Valley, The Valley Table, Chronogram, and La Voz to reach a broad, multilingual audience. Finally, we host a series of CSA fairs, which are fun opportunities to meet the farmers who grow your food and find out what CSA means to them.
EXPANDING LOCAL CSA MEMBER BASES
Publishing articles in regional publications and hosting local CSA fairs also help to expand regional farms’ local CSA member bases. Although some CSA farms in the Hudson Valley only sell locally, many rely upon consumers in New York City to sell out of shares. It’s not a bad thing to sell food in the city; the Hudson Valley is New York City’s foodshed, after all, and we want urban dwellers to have access to farm-fresh food. But many farmers would prefer to sell within their communities whenever possible, both for the sake of easier logistics and for the sake of building a socially and economically resilient Hudson Valley. For this reason, the Coalition focuses our efforts on serving Hudson Valley farmers and consumers specifically.
The Hudson Valley CSA Coalition has been proud to assist our member farms in increasing average regional membership by a substantial margin over the past four years. We look forward to continuing to host CSA fairs across the valley, and showing Hudson Valley residents why they should Consume Something Awesome.
ACCESSIBILITY AND FAMILIARITY OF CSA
CSA is an awesome model for producers and consumers alike. That said, there are some barriers inherent to the model.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer quantity and variety of food in a share: some members don’t know where to start! So the Hudson Valley CSA Coalition created a deck of Vegetable Information Cards and a Consume Something Awesome ‘Zine to ease the stress. With storage and prep tips, easy recipe ideas, and a guide to composting food scraps, these resources get those creative juices flowing, making CSA less daunting and more fun.
It’s also important to address language justice. While food is a universal need and source of community, accompanying resources such as recipes, farm signage, and info about CSA are often inaccessible to people who do not speak or read English. In 2019 and 2020, the Coalition had all of its resources and web pages translated into Spanish. We hosted a training in March 2020 on Increasing Access to CSA, at which farms in attendance discussed their translation needs and difficulties. We look forward to advancing this work, both within the Coalition and among our robust network of farms.
BUILDING OUR CSA NETWORK
Finally, the Hudson Valley CSA Coalition has spent the past five years building a robust network of farms and food organizations, both in the Hudson Valley and nationally. Our annual meeting of CSA Coalition farms has helped build connections across counties and share types. This type of network building made it possible for us (alongside the Hudson Valley Young Farmers Coalition) to launch a series of COVID-19 response calls at the beginning of the pandemic in New York State. Addressing issues such as paid sick leave, sanitation protocols, bleach shortages, and safety at farmers markets and CSA distribution, these calls helped farmers pivot their operations swiftly and effectively, allowing many CSA farms in particular to sell out of shares in record time all while staying safe.
The Hudson Valley CSA Coalition also feeds into the national network of CSA farms and technical assistance (TA) providers via the CSA Innovation Network. The Network serves to provide a repository of CSA resources for farms and TA providers, raise awareness of CSA among consumers nationwide, and discuss how CSA relates to health and wellness, equity and justice, and workplace innovation.
Please reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about our work or want to learn more! We look forward to hearing from you.
Program Sponsors and Supporters
Glynwood is an agricultural non-profit with the mission to ensure that the Hudson Valley is a region defined by food where farming thrives. It facilitates the network of farmers that form the Coalition through strategic, managerial, administrative, and fundraising support.
Davines is an Italian beauty brand dedicated to a balance of beauty and sustainability in everything they do. In Parma and throughout the rest of Italy, Davines supports local agriculture and the slow food presidia by purchasing ingredients for their Essential Haircare line that might otherwise not be farmed. In 2020, Davines launched its Beauty, From the Ground Up campaign to raise awareness of Community Supported Agriculture and support the Hudson Valley CSA Coalition, FairShare CSA Coalition (Madison, WI), and the Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CA).
This project was launched with the support of a three-year grant from the Farmers Market Promotion Program of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (Grant No. 16FMPPNY0044).