Start A Community Supported Agriculture Program

One of the latest trends in money making ideas for those with green thumbs is community supported agriculture (“CSA”).  CSA groups are popping up all over North America and their numbers grow each spring.  It’s one of the most responsible, ethical and mutually beneficial ways to make money today.

Community supported agriculture is based on the idea that a “community” of people contributes financially to the growing of a communal garden.  Each member pays a set amount of money to become part of the group.

A designated farmer uses the money to buy the seeds and other things needed to produce the crops.  Each contributing member receives an equal portion of the harvest when the crops are ready to be picked.  Money that’s leftover at the end is the profit that goes to the grower.

Here are a couple of ways to make money by starting a CSA.  The first method is to simply approach a group of like-minded people.  They may be friends, family, neighbors or co-workers in a particular area.  The idea is get a group to buy into the CSA idea and agree to contribute financially in exchange for fresh-picked, locally-grown fruits and vegetables.

The second way is to launch your CSA as a money-making business.  This means marketing it to the general public, rather than just those who are within your own circles.

There’s a bit more risk involved in this kind of a business.  However, with CSAs becoming more popular each year, the market is rife with opportunity.  It’s a viable and desirable way to make money while promoting healthy, responsible living.  CSAs are more than money making ideas; they’re smart and healthy ways for a group of people to cooperate and facilitate crop production.

Two Ways to Run Your CSA and Make Money

You can structure your CSA’s payment structure in one of two main ways:

1) Have every member pay in bulk, up front.  This usually works best when your CSA is a group of people that you know well.  Each member contributes equally to the garden up front, before it’s even planted.  Nothing else needs to be spent after that, and members begin receiving weekly produce deliveries as soon as the crops are ready for harvest.

The biggest advantage of this business model is that the farmer has all of the capital he needs up front to buy seeds and equipment.  He doesn’t have to worry about getting a loan to get the crop started, which would then have to be paid back with interest after the growing season.

2) Each member commits to paying a weekly or monthly fee.  This usually works best when you’re running your CSA as public business.  Sometimes people find it difficult to come up with a lump sum membership fee all at once.  Instead, they prefer to spread out their fee in payments which usually run throughout the growing season.

Why CSAs aren’t Mere Money Making Ideas:  The Benefits to CSA Members 

CSAs are beneficial to members as well as to the grower.  Some of these benefits include:

* Produce is as fresh as possible, usually delivered within hours of being picked.  It’s common knowledge that foods begin to lose nutrients the minute they are picked.  Therefore, the sooner they’re consumed after picking, the more nutrition they supply to the body.  CSAs are well-known for supplying the most nutritious fruits and vegetables that you can possibly get.

* Your food is locally grown.  Besides being the freshest they can possibly be, locally-grown foods also provide other benefits to the community.  CSA monies stay largely within the community, which is good for everyone who lives there.

It also means that local land is being used for farming.  With farmlands disappearing at an alarming rate, it’s one way that communities can ensure that their own local farmlands are preserved.

* You’re supporting your fellow community members.  CSAs are grassroots-type groups which provide financial benefits to regular people instead of corporate CEOs.  Your support doesn’t put money in the coffers of big business, but rather helps your neighbors pay their mortgages and send their kids to college.

* You help to promote sustainable living.  CSA produce is typically grown chemical-free, which is good for the environment and for human health.  It also helps communities to become more self-reliant, rather than dependent on foreign food sources that may not always be able to meet your demands.

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