In the fall of 2005, a group of farmers in the Laughery Valley in the Southeastern region of Indiana came together to meet with the ICDC staff and discuss the feasibility of joining forces to develop local markets for their produce. The initial meeting stirred the creativity of the group and soon the Laughery Valley Growers Cooperative began to take shape with six local growers. They agreed to begin their marketing efforts with the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) model which would be called the “FarmFreshCSA.”
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) creates a direct relationship between consumers of locally grown food and those who grow it. Growers agree to provide a weekly share of their harvest to subscribers who support them by paying a fee in advance of the harvest season. CSA subscribers join with growers in assuming the costs, risks and rewards of growing the season’s crops. Such fees pay for seeds, supplies, labor, water, equipment maintenance, soil-building amendments and other expenses required before harvesting. They also include expenses for the management and packing of weekly produce.
They created a produce availability chart with each farmer committed to growing certain produce for 2006. Two additional growers joined before the growing season began. In early Spring of 2006, the group of farmers began developing their initial business plan, and became a farmer-owned cooperative, the Laughery Valley Growers, Inc., by the time they packed their first weekly boxes in June, 2006.
In 2007, FarmFreshCSA has increased the number of household subscriptions and has also doubled their size to 15 contributing farmer members. Consumers who have purchased their weekly share of produce have offered the following feedback:
- “Since increasing my intake of your vegetables, I have more energy.”
- “I loved this! I can’t wait until next year.”
- “I liked the opportunity to try new vegetables that I normally wouldn’t try.”
- “This is a great gift we open each Wednesday.”
- “I’ve used some of the veggies as baby food …she loved it!”
The Laughery Valley Growers continue to develop strategies to create new collaborative marketing opportunities for their locally grown products and to build upon the CSA business. For more information on the Laughery Valley Growers, visit their website.
Laughery Valley Growers Cooperative members prepare a weekly supply of produce to CSA subscribers within their region.