Community Supported Agriculture
We have been collectively growing produce from our gardens for the last two seasons for sale to local restaurants, friends, and neighbors. Now we have a new site to expand our garden in Richmond's Northside. Our intention is to start a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program through this Kickstarter campaign. Backers will receive shares of produce throughout the growing season once production begins, between late spring and fall. Following a decades old model, we will use these funds to clear our new field, amend and shape the soil, purchase tools, have water and electricity hooked up, and build out prefab sheds for washing, processing, and as a cold storage room. Our plan provides ample space to produce the vegetables for our CSA customers as well as extra for retail and restaurant sales to maintain cash flow once production begins. Because we use simple tools and not tractors or high-tech greenhouses, our start-up costs remain low and maintenance is simple. It is our goal to reinvest each year into equipment for extending the season, gradually increasing our productivity.
We practice organic, bio-intensive gardening following several successful small-scale farmers before us. Joe jumped into gardening after having a dietary need for his wife to have natural foods. After being introduced to the work of a few modern pioneers in low-tech, high-output urban farming, he began the business in 2017. Josh has experience working on an organic vegetable farm in Hanover, VA, for three seasons. This past summer he lived on a renowned farm in southern Quebec as an intern, immersing himself in the techniques, skills, and market gardening lifestyle. Since this summer, we partnered to grow and sell tomatoes, root vegetables, and salad mixes to local restaurants. With decades of experience between us working in restaurants, we know what many professional cooks and chefs desire and how to connect to them. In addition to serving our friends and neighbors, we want to serve the local restaurant community as well.
The Site + The Plan
The new site has many advantages including its proximity to the city, where we aim to sell and deliver our produce. The field has been left fallow for nearly 100 years, so the soil is dense but has preserved a lot of organic matter. It is also clean and free of contaminants that can affect urban sites previously used for commercial or industrial purposes.
We've already begun our first task to remove the sod. Next, we will add amendments to balance the soil based on the results of a professional soil test and recommendations from a farming consultant. We will also add copious amounts of professionally made mushroom compost to increase the organic matter and encourage healthy soil fungus and microbes to thrive. These tasks will be scheduled as soon as the weather allows; the field must be dry and temperatures should be above freezing.
Our next biggest task is set up water to the site. Because no water main exists at this address, we will have to pay the city to set one up. This is a fixed up front cost that our campaign will help us pay for. We need water to irrigate when the weather warms up, as well as to wash the veggies in our processing area. The processing shed as well as a small walk-in cold room will be constructed from prefab sheds that we can lease for our first year and then purchase once we’ve raised the total cost. This benefits us to keep start-up costs low while providing us the necessary workspace to begin.
Risks and challenges
Our first job is to remove the sod, and amend then shape our fields. These acts require favorable weather; above freezing and relatively dry. We have a contractor ready to assist us and all the data on the soil to proceed as soon as the land is dry and warm enough. If winter continues to be long and harsh, this may set back our growing calendar. We are prepared to begin growing no matter when our first available date to plant is, and we will continue to use our large home gardens to stay productive in the meantime.
Weather will always be a factor throughout the growing season. We are confident in using low-tech solutions to mitigate the damages of these conditions. In the heat of summer, intermittent low-level sprinklers in combination with shade cloths help to reduce sun damage to sensitive crops. Drip irrigation with variable timers can ensure that heavy feeders are being consistently watered to produce high quality fruits. Insect netting will be of tantamount importance for excluding pests from getting to the food before we do.
We will be required to hire licensed contractors for all buildings, electrical, and plumbing hook-up and therefore can rely on competent and professional workmanship. If a problem does arise from any of the infrastructure, we have professionals on hand to repair their work.
Lastly, is time. We are eager to spend long days outside but we may be faced with more work than the two of us can reasonably handle from week to week. We are happy to offer volunteer opportunities and prepared to hire a part time employee if demand requires.
While we understand that unforeseen issues may come up, we are confident that our combined experience and skills make us capable to adjust planning and be flexible. This is an invaluable skill all farmers come to know.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)