Community Supported Agriculture
What does it look like?
In 2002 Dandelion Spring had it’s early roots on leased land in Appleton, Maine. We printed tri-fold brochures for our first CSA and delivered most of our shares door-to-door. I remember clearly the stress of trying to make sure there was enough diversity week to week, and the joy of cold swims in Camden before I headed home after delivery rounds. The work felt relentless, the potential exponential, and I knew I wanted more. Now, over 20 seasons later, we are still at it.
Starting our sixth season here in Bowdoinham, our landscape has changed, but our mission is the same:
At Dandelion Spring we believe that by engaging all of our senses through the production and sharing of nutritious food, we are setting a table for conversations about larger cultural and environmental issues related to our communities.
We want to bring the outside in.
Today our CSA option looks like two different tracks.
- You can pre-order food from our website for pick-up during the week in Rockland, Bowdoinham, or Portland.
- You can hold a debit account with us for use at the farmers’ markets.
Buying a CSA share option is valuable for many reasons that haven’t changed a heartbeat from those early days.
- Financial stability: We have more greenhouses, staff, capital, product.. since those early days, but the margin on vegetables has gotten even tighter. Even healthy inflation does not translate to food prices in our culture. It takes a lot of lettuce mix to keep this farm running. We are a year round business, but in reality still operate in the red for many months of the year. Any investment you make in your food right now, truly helps us to be a more stable business as we head into the primary growing season.
As a thank you: All CSA Debit Shares purchased between now and May 1st will come with an extra 10% of value added to your card. For example, buy a $100 share and we’ll put $110 on a debit card for you. This also applies to our Solidarity Shares.
- Emotional Commitment: We know you have a choice in where you purchase your food. It feels like it can come a bit from a place of ego, but it feels good to know that you’ve got our back. We are a community. It is good nutrition of another kind. The more we feel like we are part of a true living, breathing, supportive community, the more we want to give back to it.
Despite it being the end of a long week and long day, I come home from most every Saturday market fired up to grow more food. We could use a little stoking of our fire this time of year.
- Consistency: There is a depth that comes from building relationships and patterns. From the pre-order delivery end, this winter our team became very adept at packing your very diverse pre-ordered bags. We are learning to plan our offerings and wash & pack time to meet this end. We like this kind of party and want to continue! And from the farmers’ market perspective, it is simply a joy to see you on a regular basis. The entire market team loves the continuity of conversations that start with “Last week I picked up some fairytale eggplant… ” and end with “Next week I look forward to telling you what I made with the first tomatoes! And, yes! I’ll tell you if I finished the book with as much energy as I started.”
Over twenty years of commitment to a CSA model is a milestone that not many farms reach. Over this course of time, many of you have stood by me through major life changes, quietly watched my hair gray, and met many generations of both apprentices and now salaried and hourly staff. I’m truly in awe at the new building in our yard, “The Hive” (more on that later!) and a realization that the farm has reached the goal I dreamed of when I was 17, but didn’t predict was a life road I’d actually take. I feel like I’m entering a new phase of my farm career, but also with only five years under us on this new land, in many ways still feel like a beginner.
My goals for this season include:
- Continuing to build the leadership potential of this incredible group of farm workers.
- Grow a consistent supply of the most nutritious and beautiful produce that this land can offer.
- Feed our soil and build new no-till beds.
- Remove invasive species and incorporate more “wild” into our commercial production.
- Get you here! Fill our Hive with our community.
- Perhaps resume those stops to swim on the way back from deliveries or market!
Please join the party! We truly value you as part of our community and your commitment to our farm. The CSA season starts now (really! we’re delivering shares this week!) and hope to see you soon.
Beth and team Dandelion