Community-Supported Enterprise

We’re all familiar with Community-Supported Agriculture, or CSAs. You buy ‘shares’ or subscribe to a local farm’s CSA program early in the season, and then get a box of fresh-harvested veggies delivered to your door (or nearby pickup spot) every week or two. That pre-selling model helps farmers smooth out the peaks and valleys of a highly seasonable business, giving them cash in the lean early spring months that can tide them over until harvest time. CSA customers, in turn, get to share in the delicious local bounty that their dollars helped to support.

The CSA model has been so successful, it’s spread to other areas. You can now find community-supported breweries, bookstores, fisheries, bakeries and art.

Of course, in this digital age, there are new twists on the community-supported enterprise idea. An app called Credibles lets customers pre-pay for products from the favorite local businesses, and receive edible credits that can be used later. By paying in advance, customers typically get a bonus—for example, a $200 payment might entitle them to $220 worth of food. Not to mention the warm, fuzzy feel of supporting a local business!

Pros:

  • Low risk way to support a local business that you patronize
  • By paying in advance, you may get a discount on products
  • Creates a feeling of connection and goodwill

Cons:

  • May tie up some spending money for those on a budget
  • Some CSAs and monthly delivery programs don’t give you much choice in selection

Resources:

For more information about CSAs, or to find one near you, go to see http://www.localharvest.org/csa/