Workplace CSA Brings Cucumbers to Cubicles

 

The High Desert Food & Farm Alliance (HDFFA) is launching a new Workplace CSA program to make local food more convenient than ever for working professionals.  CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and is a method of marketing and selling produce direct from the farmer to the consumer. Many farms in Central Oregon have CSA pick-up locations either at their farm or at the farmers market but HDFFA found that this model doesn’t always fit into the 9-5 schedule of many employees.

When surveyed by HDFFA, people remarked that the number one barrier to purchasing local food was farmers markets not working with their schedules. Looking to bridge this gap, HDFFA is piloting a program where it pairs one partner farm with a local business, giving employees the opportunity to purchase a CSA share from that farm. The farmer then delivers fresh produce directly to the office each week.

 “It is becoming more and more important to source food locally. Everyone is so busy these days, it’s easy to go to the store and get food from distant places like Central and South America,” Says Bobby Treadwell, Workplace CSA Organizer for Humm Kombucha. “HDFFA has made sourcing local food easy and incredibly convenient. We love being paired with Mahonia Gardens and supporting our community!”

Some businesses, like the Deschutes Onsite Health Clinic (DOC) are interested in the program as a way to promote workplace wellness initiatives for their employees.

“I see community supported agriculture (CSA) as an opportunity to enhance our health and well-being,” says Juli McKee, DOC

Wellness Coordinator and HDFFA Board Member. “It’s a wonderful way to promote a culture of wellness for those in our program as well as the community at large.”

As for the farmers, the program helps them reach new customers and grows the local food economy. “Our participating farmers sold 47 shares total which equals nearly $20,000 in gross sales,” says Meiko Lunetta, Program Coordinator at HDFFA. “Last year we conducted an economic impact study and found that for every dollar spent on food from a local producer, $0.76 stays in the Central Oregon economy, so this program is making a considerable economic impact in our region.”  You can find more about the economic impact of local food on HDFFA’s website.

The CSA model is simple: customers purchase a CSA share before the growing season starts. The upfront investment helps farmers with early season expenses like soil amendments and seeds. Throughout the summer and fall months the farmer delivers the CSA customer “their share of the farm” which consists of a box of produce every week for typically 18-20 weeks. Some CSAs also include eggs, meat, and other farm products. It is a win-win arrangement where the producer gets the capital they need to start the season and the CSA member reaps the benefits of fresh local produce each week.

This year, HDFFA paired Humm Kombucha, PacificSource Health Plans, Hydro Flask and Deschutes DOC with participating farmers including Boundless Farmstead, Mahonia Gardens, Seed to Table and Rainshadow Organics. With more than 13 CSA farms in this region, there is ample opportunity to expand the pilot and get more businesses involved for 2019. Businesses and farmers interested in getting involved in Workplace CSA can contact Program Coordinator Meiko Lunetta at meiko@hdffa.org or visit www.hdffa.org to learn more.

This program is funded in part by the Oregon Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant.

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