Family CSA Project
In 2018 Raindance Organic Farm piloted a member-harvested family farm membership program. It’s community garden meets community supported agriculture. Here is a description of the project. For more information about 2019, please check back here in January or sign up to receive email notification when we open the project: interest form.
It can be tough to rent a community garden plot and get out there with little ones to weed all summer. We know it's hard because we've tried it! This summer we're piloting a project for families to get them into growing spaces in a supportive way.
We will do the crop planning, weeding, and succession plantings to keep the good stuff coming. Parents and kids come to the farm to do the fun stuff! Put on your boots and harvest your family’s share of delicious, organic produce each week. Soak up the beauty of nature together. Give your kids shovels so they can dig up purple potatoes while you snip a glorious bunch of cut flowers and take a deep breath. Ask gardening questions. Share stories. Have a picnic lunch with your kiddos under the big blue sky.
Family CSA Project Pilot-Year
Member-harvested. Every Friday morning is member harvest! Bring your buckets, baskets, bags and clippers to pick your share. We’ll have a share list and map for you each week showing where to pick, dig, snap, and sample. You’ll go home with all the good stuff.
Family-oriented. Kids are amazing, but seriously, parenting is hard. It takes incredible patience, perseverance, creativity, and endurance to raise human beings. As parents of a 4 year old and a 6 year old, we get it. We are seeking ways to make the Family CSA experience supportive and encouraging for everyone involved. It’s a pilot year, so part of the beauty of this project is working together as a group to figure it out. If our farm needs to haul in a load of sand to create a massive sandbox, we’ll do it. If we need to grow more snacking fruits in the crop plan, we’ll make that happen. We have great cultivated and wild spaces on our farm and we’ll be seeking input from pilot-year families on how to craft a welcoming environment for kids and adults.
Great value. We are crop planning for abundance. We'd rather offer too much than not enough. At the same time we do not want to burden any parents with rotting-food guilt. Choose what you’d like on the harvest list, and go pick that. Pass over anything you know you won’t eat.
Outdoor experiences. Our 10-acre farm is new to us, and we are very grateful and excited to be stewards of this land. We have a small pond for fishing, frog catching, and turtle watching. There is a bubbling creek that flows in rainy seasons and dries in the heat of July. Our 6 acre pasture is fenced and is great for a wild rumpus of running off energy. And of course we chickens!
Local. For reference, our farm is a 12 minute drive from downtown Ann Arbor, 15 minutes from Dexter, and 20 minutes from Plymouth. We are so grateful to have found a farm near to the community we've loved these last ten years! We believe the future is local, and we want to make it easy for you and your children to personally know the farmers growing your food. We want you to see our growing practices up close and ask questions.
Our Commitment to Our Family CSA Project Members:
15 weeks of CSA. We’ll plant and cultivate lots of great food for your family for a 15-week season from June 22nd through September 28th.
Fridays 10am-noon. We’ll provide welcoming spaces on the farm each Friday morning between 10am-noon for family harvest sessions.
Communication. We’ll communicate regularly with signs on the farm and through our member email newsletter about what is in season, where to pick, how to harvest, and recipes our family enjoyed.
Education. Kristen will provide personal, friendly education each Friday morning, answering questions, demonstrating how to harvest, and suggesting recipes.
Our Members' Commitment to the Farm:
Feedback. We seek to provide two things for your family this summer: 1. A good haul of local, fresh-as-can-be, organic produce each week, and 2. A great outdoor experience on the farm. To make that happen in this pilot year, we need lots of feedback on what is working and what isn’t. Every family’s needs are different, especially in relation to the age and stage of your children, so we want to hear what would help you connect with your kids, with nature, and with other like-minded grownups. We’ll be available in-person, by email, text, Facebook, phone, and through telepathic messaging (just kidding!) to hear your thoughts and learn together.
Buy-in for better or worse. Like all farms, our harvest depends on weather conditions. Crop abundance and crop failure are both part of agriculture. We’ve been growing food for a decade, and we feel confident about raising a wide variety of great foods for members’ shares, but we also know some failure is part of the job. We ask for your support of our farm throughout this first season as we commit ourselves to the work of growing a diverse harvest for you.
Financial support. We ask for a financial commitment of $450 for the 15 week season. This works out to a cost of $30 a week for the weekly parent-child experience AND a bounty of certified organic produce. We believe this is a great value, and we hope that amount can fit into your family's budget and needs. If this doesn't work for your family, one solution is to find a friend and split a share.
We also have a deep desire to right wrongs in the world and tip the scale toward social justice and equality. If the cost of the family membership is unaffordable, please contact Kristen by email and she'll work with you to create a solution.
Ready to sign-up? Click here:
Can grandparents join us?
Yes! Your grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors, godparents, visiting friends, etc. are all welcome to join on Friday mornings. Your family's membership means you have a designated share of produce waiting for you, and you may bring anyone you'd like to harvest with you. Parking on the farm is a limited resource, so we ask you to kindly carpool.
Can we split a membership with another family?
Yes! You may absolutely split a share! Our preference is that a family wishing to split a share finds a partner family through their contacts or social media. (In future years we may be able to offer matchmaking, but in this pilot year we are short on office hours.) Fill out the Family CSA Project application and make sure to include a note there with your partner family's name. Two partnering families may decide to alternate their weeks, or may choose to come together and just split up the produce each week. Please feel free to make the arrangement that works best for your families.
How much produce will our family harvest each week?
The crop plan we've designed for our 15 week season aims to grow 8+ vegetables for harvest each week (with an additional buffer in case of crop failure) plus a small bouquet of cut flowers. Here's an example share:
- 1 bunch basil
- 1 quart green & purple beans
- 2 heads of garlic
- 1 head lettuce
- 2 sweet peppers
- 8 radishes
- 3 tomatoes
- 2 zucchini
- bouquet of cut flowers
If your family doesn't enjoy vegetable x, you're always welcome to pass over that item. If the farm is producing an over-abundance of something, there will be a freebie list too (extra zucchini, anyone?).
Friday morning doesn't work for our family. Is there another option?
I agonized over this because I really want growing experiences to be accessible for ALL families and I know that Friday morning doesn't work for many people. We really wish we could offer a weekend option this year, but since it's our first year on the farm, we don't have the people-power available to host as we'd like to on the weekend. Adam and I have a list of high-priority projects that will improve the farm for all who visit in future years, but realistically we only have Saturdays and Sundays when he's home from work this summer to get these dreams built! We also know our children will be experiencing a big transition and we want to reserve space and time for them to work through that with parents who are present and emotionally available.
But a weekend harvest time is in my vision for the future! If we are able to get all of the infrastructure in place this spring (weather dependent), then I do hope to offer some weekend events on the farm this summer, so if you are interested, please sign up for our email newsletter to hear about any special events. We don't send many emails!
Do you have any talking points for my partner who is reluctant to shell out $450?
- "We already spend $x on swim lessons/music classes/preschool camps/etc. for our child(ren) for a session that is x weeks long. And we pay per child. This project runs 15 weeks and the cost covers our whole family and our visiting guests and grandparents (etc!), so it's really a good deal!"
- "Our grocery budget is $x per week, and this project will provide such a large proportion of our fresh vegetables from June through September! Thirty dollars per week is a great value for a heaping pile of organic vegetables and a bouquet of cut flowers."
- "We could [or did] rent a community garden plot, and then we need to buy organic seeds and transplants and fencing. And we might need to buy some tools too. It'll work out to about the same cost! But if we do this project, we won't have to worry about weeding, we'll meet some other awesome families, and our kiddo(s) will probably enjoy gardening more with lots of other children around to play with."
- "If the cost is too great this year, there's an option to split a share with another family. We could go every other week, or we could take the kids each week and just split the produce share up with another family."