Food at Work: COMMUNITY SUPPORTED AGRICULTURE

vegetables

Looking for a creative, easy way to promote healthy eating at work? Try establishing a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program at your worksite. A CSA allows individuals to purchase local, seasonal produce directly from a farmer. Employees who choose to participate in a CSA will likely be asked to purchase "shares" or a membership to a particular farm, who will then drop off a weekly box of produce at a pre-determined location.

 


 

How to get started

1) Conduct a short survey to:

  • Gauge employee interest
  • Identify dates and times for CSA pick-up
  • Ensure that enough employees will participate (depends on the farm and the number of shares available for your worksite)

2) ) Identify a farm that has available shares to accommodate interested employees (if possible, contact the farmer by March as shares run out quickly). For a list of CSA's serving Minnesota, visit Minnesota Grown or the Land Stewardship Project's CSA directory. Once indentified, the farm typically has a website where employees can sign-up for a share and will send out periodic communications.

3) Determine a location for pick-up. A typical pick-up location is:

  • Centralized
  • Easy to find for employees and the farmer
  • Approved (if necessary) by City or County zoning and/or relevant departments

4) Promote CSA registration by:

  • Developing flyers and connecting with employees through other communication mechanisms such as email
  • Sending out recipe cards, emails, newsletters that highlight produce items found in the CSA box
  • Offering cooking and/or canning classes

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Blue Cross Promotes Healthy Eating through a CSA

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross) has partnered with a local farm to provide employees with the  opportunity to purchase full (20 deliveries) and half shares (10 deliveries) directly on the farm's website. Many employees split shares with co-workers. The farmer often e-mails newsletters with recipes and tips for preparing the fresh food. The farmer also e-mails early-season updates, with highlights of the growing crops and enthusiasm for the harvest to come.

The share comes in one box, and the owners split the produce as they see fit. Deliveries for Blue Cross employees are made to one central location each Thursday mid-afternoon, beginning the second week of June. For 2011, the farmer plans to increase the offerings for crops typically used for canning and freezing, such as tomatoes and peppers.

One employee who participated in a different CSA in the past compares her experiences this way: "Previously, I collected my share from a drop location in my neighborhood and then drove to a friend’s house to divide the produce. Now I have the convenience of a work delivery and friends at work to split the share." In addition, her CSA experiences have expanded her food interests and given her a broader appreciation for small farmers and the food growing process.

Interest in the CSA program has grown. In 2010, Blue Cross employees purchased 16 full shares and 28 half shares. This compares to 12 full shares and 19 half shares purchased in 2009.

Additional resources:

Land Stewardship Project's CSA Farm Directory

Minnesota Grown

Carver Count's CSA FAQs

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