Open every Sunday afternoon, year-round, CSA members can pick up weekly shares of fresh produce at Homegrown Farms. This model enables Chad to anticipate how many members to grow for, in order to better plan his growing season. A CSA enables Chad to save time delivering produce to an institutional purchaser or labeling products for a farmers market and spending time there without the assurance of customers. This investment in the season is also a commitment to WV Homegrown Farms that allows Chad to fund the early spring seeding and planning.
Members have plenty of benefits too-year-round fresh produce, a relationship with a local farmer, and financial and time savings. Based on Chad’s and others’ successful CSA models, the CSA could be a growing trend in West Virginia-and rightfully so. In a state where fresh produce is hard to access, a local farm that promises weekly vegetables and other farm products is an important need filled. Moreover, CSAs in West Virginia leverage the already strong community ties and sense of community support for local businesses-another trend that continues to increase statewide. The CSA shareholder model encourages farmers and consumers to commit to each other, and promises successful business models based on a reliable customer base.
Chad Smith, of West Virginia Homegrown Farms, operates a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm in Fayette County. Not only does he sell to restaurants, local schools, and local consumers, but he is growing his CSA member base. The Value Chain Cluster Initiative was able to provide technical assistance to Chad in drafting a contract for CSA members.