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Skidmore College

Inaugural CSA available this year to campus

April 28, 2013
Saratoga CSA logo
Program logo designed by Emily
Culbert '14
and Kana Miller '14.

Starting in Fall 2013, Skidmore community members -- including faculty, staff and students -- will be able to pick up a weekly share of local, sustainably grown produce in the Murray-Aikins Dining Hall as a part of the Saratoga Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) program offered by 9 Miles East Farm and Slack Hollow Farm.

The CSA concept has become increasingly popular throughout the last two decades as a way for farmers to sell high-quality, fresh produce directly to consumers. Those buying the produce assume some of the inherent risk that comes with farming. Farmers sell shares (weekly bag/box of vegetables) to consumers at the start of the growing season.  Because customers buy the shares at the start of the growing season, it allows the farmer to have capital when it is most needed, when costs related to equipment, labor, infrastructure, and other supplies are highest. 

Shared risk is the other important element of a CSA. Customers pay up front, knowing that if something goes wrong during the season due to weather, pests, or other unforeseen circumstances, the customers assume that risk with the farmer and accept the produce that is available given the circumstances of that season. Customers who support CSAs enjoy the fresh food (typically harvested the day of delivery), a more direct relationship to the farmers, and an understanding of the growing practices used to produce their food. 

The idea for a Skidmore campus CSA started two years ago and has since been the focus of several student projects in courses offered by departments including Environmental Studies, Management & Business, and Art. Will Dowling ’12 focused his Environmental Studies capstone project on the feasibility of a campus CSA program. Emily Culbert ’14 and Kana Miller ’14, students in an Environmental Art course offered by Visiting Assistant Professor Alison Barnes, designed the logo for the Saratoga CSA. Associate Professor of Business Ela Lepkowska-White offered students in her marketing course the opportunity to design a marketing plan as if they were business owners offering a CSA at Skidmore, and several groups took on the challenge and presented their ideas at the end of the current semester. The level of interest in the topic spurred the Sustainable Skidmore office to work with local farms so that the campus could become a drop-off location for the Saratoga CSA. 

The growing interest expressed by the community as well as the engagement of so many members of the campus led to the opportunity now being offered. 9 Miles East and Slack Hollow Farm will deliver fresh produce to campus each Friday beginning in Fall 2013, with a convenient pick-up location being offered in the atrium of the Murray-Aikins Dining Hall from 3 to 5 p.m. each Friday. 

Kale is one of the products expected
to be
available through the Saratoga CSA.

There are two options available. A $300 fee will cover 12 weeks of delivery beginning Sept. 6 and ending Nov. 22. A fee of $325 provides access to a weekly delivery beginning Sept. 6 and ending Nov. 26, which provides an additional week of delivery and the possibility of including locally grown food in your family’s Thanksgiving celebration.

Customers will receive approximately 5-10 pounds of produce weekly -- the equivalent to a grocery bag full of produce. Items will vary as the season progresses. Among the products expected to be included are tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, eggplant, cucumbers, herbs, lettuce, chard, potatoes, winter squash, onions, kale, turnips, beets, and spinach. 

Slack Hollow Farm has been certified organic for 19 years.  No synthetic pesticides are used, and the focus on the farm is in cultivating healthy soils in order to produce healthy crops.  9 Miles East has signed the Farmer’s Pledge to use only natural methods of production and the farm does not utilize any chemical fertilizers.

Just 100 shares are being sold for the Fall 2013 CSA.  If you are interested, please sign up by clicking here.  You can also contact Gordon Sacks or Kristine Reynolds at 9 Miles East with further questions.

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