Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Seven Springs Farm CSA and Organic Farm Supplies

Thanks to Ron for sending us the link to this Farm. Seven Springs Farm is in Floyd County Va and has been in operation since 1990. They supply all manner of "conventional organic" farm supplies from back pack sprayers and dormant oils, to poultry manure and sea kelp based fertilizers. They also sell organic cover crop seed with a separate page on their site dedicated to cover crops. It looks like this Floyd County Farm has been making a business of supporting organic farming for almost twenty years, however my only knowledge of this farm is what I have picked up from their website.
I decided to pass the link to this farm along here primarily because of some interesting and possibly inspiring elements to their CSA program. Thir Vegetable CSA operates from May 12 through mid December providing 32 weeks of produce and what seems to be a tremendous amount of flexibility. In that 32 week period they allow each member 3 weeks "off" from their CSA for travel etc. They do half and full shares. They also offer the option of Working and Non-Working Shares for both Full and Half, with the number of work hours required (16 hours per season) cut in half for a half share. On top of all that they have the option of an additional Herb CSA for those who like a bundle of several different culinary herbs added to their box. I feel a little tired just reading all these options, much less managing them all!
Finally, and here is the most interesting part, they have lower income CSA options. One paragraph on their CSA page reads "LOW INCOME SHARE FUND – Through the generosity of CSA members, we have established a fund that allows us to give discounts to families on limited incomes who want to participate, but cannot pay the full price. If you are interested in making a donation to this fund, please indicate this on your sign-up form. If you would like to apply for a discount on your share, please check the ‘apply for a low income share’ box."

The issue of affordability for those families who have no financial wiggle room is always out there and this farms small scale, and possibly unsustainable, approach is thought provoking.
Not only the issue of those who cannot afford to buy fresh and healthy produce, but those who can afford to grow it! Seven Springs Farm's Payment information reads " If you can pay the full price of your share upon sign-up, please do so. Pre-payment provides the working capital needed to purchase seed, supplies, etc., and pay employee salaries for work that begins months in advance of the first vegetable distribution.If you cannot pay the entire amount at sign-up, you may use an installment plan... We offer a sliding scale of prices. You may choose what you will pay within the range of prices given. The low end of the scale is designed to cover the estimated budget for the year. That budget allows for a yearly salary for the farmer of only $18-$20,000. Since it is so difficult to make a living wage farming, the sliding scale allows for those with the means to help subsidize the farmer’s income modestly and also to make a contribution to the low-income share fund. All money collected that is over the minimum price is distributed 80% to Polly’s salary, 20% to the low-income share fund." Interesting stuff, and I would like to find out more about how it really works.

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