CSA WELLNESS INITIATIVES
Many health insurance and health coverage program providers are including Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs), a farm producing local food, as a wellness benefit. They do this through offering discounts and incentives for purchasing produce from a local CSA farm. The Lake Superior Sustainable Farming Association has partnered with the Institute for a Sustainable Future and the CSA Guild to support this effort.
What is a CSA?
Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) is a unique food distribution system that connects a farmer with a community of eaters in order to form a sustainable system for local food production and consumption. A CSA consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes—either legally or spiritually—the community’s farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production. Most CSA farms focus on vegetables, but many provide meat, eggs, cheese, preserves, and other farm products directly to consumers. While CSAs are a vital foundation to a resilient farm economy, a variety of studies also demonstrate that CSA members increase consumption and variety of fresh fruit and vegetables.
To Support Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Wellness Initiatives
CSA membership helps increase the variety and quantity of vegetables consumed. Moreover, across the country a variety of health insurance providers are including CSA’s in their wellness initiatives and/or providing CSA rebates. The Institute for a Sustainable Future has created a variety of educational tools, examples of health plan CSA programs, template letters and a workplace survey for those interested in having CSA’s included in their health insurance plan as a rebate or wellness offering! For more information visit the Institute for a Sustainable Future website.
CSA Farm Wellness Criteria
To help health insurance and other companies adopt CSAs into their wellness benefits, LS-SFA has developed a list of farms in the Superior Grown region which would qualify for participation in a CSA wellness initiative. The criteria and review process can be viewed and saved at CSA Wellness Initiative Evaluation Criteria (PDF), or viewed below. Applications by interested CSA farms are reviewed annually by the LSSFA. Those meeting the criteria are included on the list of participating farms below.
List of Farms
Stone’s Throw https://stonesthrowfarm.wordpress.com/
Chelsea Morning Farm http://chelseamorningfarm.weebly.com/
Food Farm https://foodfarmcsa.wordpress.com/
Northern Harvest Farm http://www.northernharvestfarm.com/
Hermit Creek http://www.hermitcreekfarm.com/
Round River http://www.round-river.com/
La Finca CSA http://www.lafincacsa.com/
Not all CSAs participate in this program; to find a full list, go to http://www.csaguild.com/csa-guild-farms.html
EVALUATION CRITERIA FOR APPLICANT FARMS
The primary purpose of the application and interview process is to determine whether the applicant has the skills and resources to consistently provide quality produce and a positive experience for their CSA members.
Applicant farms are evaluated on the following grounds:
- Adequate skills, labor, land, equipment, washing and storage facilities for intended scale of production.
- Experience with and demonstrated knowledge of raising vegetables on the intended scale of production. Applicants without any prior experience growing commercial vegetables are unlikely to be endorsed.
- Experience managing CSA.
- If applicant is planning to start a new CSA or dramatically expand an existing CSA in the next year, this significantly reduces their chances of being endorsed by LSSFA. In this situation, to be endorsed the farm must clearly demonstrate that they are prepared for the increased management burdens.
- If the applicant has little or no experience with CSA, other relevant marketing experience is very important.
- Certified Organic for fruits and vegetables: If not currently certified, applicant must understand organic standards and be prepared to apply for certification in the first year of LSSFA endorsement. Applicants need not gain certification, but must begin the process of becoming certified. As provided by federal law, farms that do not sell more than $5,000 per year do not need to be certified but must meet all organic certification standards. Any LSSFA endorsed farm making a claim of less than $5,000 of product sold must provide a written statement to LSSFA. Farms meeting this certification exemption must farm according to the federal organic standards. Meat and other products are not currently eligible for the wellness initiative program and are not required to be certified organic for the farm to be endorsed.
- CSA experience and management. Growers must demonstrate a commitment in the following areas. Evidence of past improvement in these areas is a plus.
- Offering products which are valuable to their members
- Offering opportunities for member involvement
- Soliciting member feedback
- Clear, regular communication with members
- Clear, detailed descriptions of their CSA program for potential members
LSSFA will only endorse CSA farms (or group of farms operating a CSA together) where the vast majority (85%) of all products given to CSA members are produced on the endorsed farm(s). The primary purpose of the farm(s) should be raising food (not reselling food grown elsewhere). LSSFA requires endorsed farms to provide full disclosure of source and organic status for their products in brochure, website, newsletters, and/or other written format readily available to their CSA members. Although LSSFA does not regularly inspect endorsed farms, we do reserve the right to visit applicant farms and currently endorsed farms to validate their practices.