CSA Member Research: Conclusions in a Nutshell

To Make a Long Story Short

A person at the CSA member farmstand.This study indicates that people join CSA because they want to:

  1. Access high quality (and, to a lesser extent, organic) produce
  2. Support local farmers
  3. Get exposed to new foods by receiving a pre-selected bundle of vegetables
  4. Be a part of community

Membership renewal is thus based on the farm’s ability to satisfy these preferences. Troy Community Farm in particular attracts and keeps members because:

  1. It is an urban farm in close proximity to its members
  2. It is a part of a larger organization (Friends of Troy Gardens)
  3. There is sense of loyalty to Claire Strader, the managing farmer

This study also indicates that people leave Troy CSA when they:

  1. Have a strong preference for self-selected vegetables
  2. Do not feel like they are a part of the community
  3. Perceive that they are not being treated fairly

The “sense of community” mentioned in this study is defined, in part, by the participants’ impressions that they share common interests and values with other CSA members. There is very little actualized interaction between members of Troy CSA. Therefore, it seems that Troy provides a conceptual community of common interests, rather than a social network governed by established and enforced norms.

In the absence of social norms it is concluded that the CSA members’ attitude and behavior changes, such as altered cooking and eating habits, consideration of food seasonality, and increased appreciation for farming, are attributed to the inherent and educational framework provided by Troy CSA, rather than social circumstances. The combination of member preferences and behavior patterns provides a rough conceptual model of what makes a faithful CSA member.

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