Community Supported Agriculture
History of Calhoun's CSA
Inspired by Calhoun's renowned Eat Right Now school lunch program, the school's CSA was started in the fall of 2009 by the Parents Association as an experiment in community supported agriculture. More than 60 parents and staff paid for a share in the limited "membership," entitling them to pick up at school bags of fresh, locally grown produce every week for 11-12 weeks.
What is a CSA?
A CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is a business relationship between a community and a farmer who sells "shares" (portions of the farmer's harvest), directly to members of the CSA community before the farmer even plants seeds for the coming season. The money the farmer receives from his or her CSA membership is, in fact, seed money. Because the members pay in advance, the CSA relationship allows the farmer to raise interest-free operating capital. In return, the CSA membership receives fresh food directly from the farm.
Volunteer members run the CSA, so there are no markups for advertising, storing or distribution. Because there are no guarantees that particular crops will succeed, members share the financial risks along with the farmers. Members also share in the bounty of the farm, receiving high quality vegetables and herbs at below-market prices.
Our farm is Paisley Farm, owned and run by Mike Kokas and Jan Greer, in Tivoli, NY. The farm has a number of fields in a beautiful area of Columbia County near the Hudson River, a little bit north of Rhinebeck. Mike and Jan manage their fields using organic methods but do not have organic certification (largely because they don’t use exclusively organic seed). The vegetables are fresh and flavorful, the equal of anything you might buy at the Union Square greenmarket. Mike and Jan are very responsive to our CSA’s wants and needs; since 2009, we have had a warm and easy relationship with them.
Our weekly share includes a wide variety of vegetables, among them; tomatoes, kale, squash, eggplant, radishes, herbs, garlic, onions, celery and peppers. Paisley Farm also offers fruit and egg shares for an additional cost. It is an abundant array of farm fresh produce. Please bring a LARGE to bag to collect your weekly share!
How We Run Our CSA
There are 75 full memberships, half shares also available. Up to 10 shares are available for faculty and administrative staff for a $100 discount. The full membership fee is $330, which includes administrative costs.
2016-17 CSA Membership Contract and Details
Members are asked to bring their own bags and to be responsible for picking up their weekly shares between 3pm and 6pm. Please notify a member of the CSA team if you are going to be late and we will make every effort to pack a bag or box with your share and leave it in the lobby. See contract for details. Pick up location is in the Calhoun Commons at the school's main 81st Street building (at 433 WEA).
Each Calhoun member is asked to volunteer to work a minimum of one shift during the season. Shift work includes setting up the boxes of produce, distributing it and/or cleaning up at the end of pickup. Each shift is about 90 minutes. Please sign up for your shift at the first CSA pickup in September.