Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a unique model of direct farmer-to-consumer marketing where members build a partnership with one farmer. This gives the consumer (you!) a chance to interact more long-term with the person who is growing your food, and the farmer an expanded and reliable market for his/her produce. Both partners share in the risks and rewards of small-scale farming: weather, insect damage, and bumper crops.
CSA members (or "friends" as they are called here at New Roots) pre-pay for an entire season of produce, and then they pick up a variety of veggies each week from the same farmer. The New Roots CSA program helps refugees develop long-term relationships with English speaking Americans while developing their small business skills.
The Roots of Community Supported Agriculture
The model for CSA came to the US in the 1980s- people in different communities decided they wanted a stronger connection to their food, while farmers looked for other ways to sell their produce and improve their cash flow. Once these groups connected, the customers, or members, prepaid for a “share” of produce so that the farmer could pay for seeds and supplies before the season. By doing this, members acknowledged and embraced the risks and rewards inherent in farming. As a member of our CSA, we ask you to do the same. In return, we’ll work with the New Roots farmers to grow the best produce possible.
What Makes Us Unique
Juniper Gardens Training Farm – the home of the New Roots farmers – is more than just a farm, it’s a school. This year, refugee farmers from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burma, and Bhutan have come together to share their wealth of knowledge and to learn how to adapt and apply that knowledge to the market in the United States. Some New Roots farmers will thrive as they develop long-lasting relationships with CSA Friends, while others will prefer the bustle of a high traffic market, or selling wholesale. Our job as staff is to familiarize farmers with a variety of sales outlets and help them decide which works best for them. Working within many different cultures and languages can present barriers, but the gain of new relationships and new learning opportunities makes it more than worth it.
Our ultimate goal is to transition farmers to self-sufficiency so that they can graduate from our training farm and continue their farm business on their own land. This is why you’re paired with one farmer instead of getting produce aggregated from all 16 farmers. We want every farmer to experience the process of a CSA and work on developing individual relationships. As a result our staff is coordinating over 60 CSA Friends, who each pick up at different markets, multiple days a week, from 11 different farmers. You will receive vegetables that will vary with the seasons, providing opportunities to learn from farmers about their produce. There may be miscommunications – but we’re here to help! Just like we tell the farmers, if you have questions or concerns, we ask you to talk directly to each other before reaching out to staff. The more you can communicate with them, the more they’ll learn about how to run a successful CSA. Every interaction between you and the farmer is a learning opportunity- we hope you’ll embrace that part of your experience as a New Roots CSA Friend.
How Our CSA Works
New Roots Market CSA Friends pick up their shares every week at the same farmers market, from the same farmer. The sign-up for 2017 CSAs will be available at www.newrootsforrefugees.org in mid-February for returning members and early March for new members. When you sign up, you’ll select your top two choices for market pickup, and you will be placed with a farmer based on your market preference and available spaces. Next you’ll sign an agreement with your farmer and send in either a $100 deposit or the full amount if possible. Full payment is due before the first pickup, which will be between mid-May and mid-June, depending on the opening dates of different markets. In 2017 we will continue to offer two share sizes available for pickup at markets across Kansas City:
~Small share: 4-5 items every week for 18 weeks – $225
~Large share: 7-8 items every week for 18 weeks – $350
(One "item" means one bag, one box, one bunch, etc. – sizes may vary. For example, in a small share you might get 3-4 onions (depending on size), a quart box of potatoes, a bunch of carrots, and a bag of spinach.)
We are coordinating several CSA deliveries this year with 3rd and 4th year farmers. If you have a group of about 7-12 people at your office or other centralized location (place of worship, community building, etc.), who are interested in having CSA shares delivered once a week, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Your group needs a point person to handle communication about the CSA and collect payment. One farmer will deliver the CSA shares at the same time each week, and will need a space to setup for ½ hour – 1 hour. There will be a one-time delivery fee paid upfront based on the federal standard mileage rate and distance from our training farm.
What We Grow
New Roots farmers follow sustainable practices to grow a wide variety of high-quality vegetables, each on their own ¼ acre. Farmers choose what they grow and when they grow it, so the CSA experience may differ a bit from farmer to farmer. Your CSA share will contain vegetables familiar to a Midwestern palate as well as vegetables that are traditional to the farmers’ countries of origin.
~Spring (May – June): beets, green onions, spinach, lettuce, arugula, kale, swiss chard, Asian greens (like bok choi and tatsoi), collard greens, carrots, radishes, kohlrabi, Chinese cabbage, herbs (cilantro, dill, parsley, mint, sage, several varieties of basil), green peas (sugar snap, shell, and snow)
~Summer (June – August): heirloom and hybrid tomatoes, sweet peppers, hot peppers, various types of eggplant, okra, melons, cucumbers, onions, green onions, green beans, mustard greens, summer squash, basil, Burmese roselle, yard long beans and noodle beans, Asian cucumbers and edible gourds
~Fall (September – October): lettuce mixes, arugula, kale, collards, swiss chard, cabbage, winter squashes, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, garlic, herbs (same as above, plus lemongrass), peas
Here are answers to a few frequently asked questions (FAQs):
Where can I pick up my Share?
Pick up happens at any one of the markets where a farmer already sells. CSA Friends pick up from the same farmer at the same market location every week. Please see the map on the "markets" tab for a list of where CSA shares can be picked up this year.
How Do I Join?
All potential CSA Friends fill out the New Roots CSA Interest Form (link at the top of the page). Returning CSA Friends will have the opportunity to sign up in February, and new CSA Friends can start signing up in late February/early March. If you are interested in purchasing a New Roots CSA for the first time in 2017, check back in March for a link to sign up!
What if the weather is terrible this year? Will we still get our vegetables?
Part of the joy of supporting local agriculture is that we are subject to the whims of Kansas weather. We do our best to guarantee a steady and generous supply of all types of vegetables, but one of the lessons agriculture teaches us is just how little control we have in the world! If we come up short on individual crops, we will try to be creative, but our intent is to give you vegetables grown seasonally on our farm. This also means that when there is an abundance of a particular crop, you can expect larger quantities.
What if we don't like all the produce we get?
While certain traditional items like tomatoes, onions, and lettuce will always be a favorite, other items like mustard greens and kohlrabi add depth and breadth to meals. Learning how to enjoy these foods is part of learning how to eat seasonally and locally. Though you have some choice in our CSA, we hope that you’ll still embrace the adventurous nature of eating seasonally and try a few new things! Sometimes all it takes is a little creativity (and trial and error) to find a recipe you enjoy ~ like chocolate beet cake for example! We will send out regular newsletters with recipes and other information to help you make the most of your CSA share.
The New Roots CSA is unique in that we are all growing together- for customers this may mean trying new vegetables and learning to eat seasonally, and for farmers this means learning a new language and developing new business skills. New Roots staff will do our best to help you enjoy the produce, but CSAs do require a certain level of commitment to eating a variety of locally available produce. We hope you'll join us in taking some risks!
What is this vegetable?
Sometimes you might not be able to identify a particular vegetable or herb, much less how to use it. We have a large variety of recipe cards available to our farmers, and we encourage them to bring recipes to every market. Don’t hesitate to ask for a recipe, or you can ask your farmer how they cook the vegetable. If you’re still feeling unsure, try searching our “Veggie ID” page on this website.
What if I can't pick up my produce?
If you cannot pick up your share for some reason, please first try to have a friend pick up your share! If you aren’t able to find someone else, and you know ahead of time that no one will be coming to pick up your share, please call your farmer and let them know you will not come. Please also keep in mind that you do not get refunded for missing a pickup.
How can I get more involved in the farm?
We love having people come to visit and to volunteer! You should always let us know in advance, so that we can plan to offer you a good experience. We can arrange group tours if desired. If you and your farmer are able to communicate, feel free to coordinate with him/her independently! We also host multiple activities throughout the year. Sometimes these include cooking lessons with farmers, potlucks at the farm, and general farm tours.
What are CSA members saying about New Roots?
“I feel like I value the produce I prepare for my family more because I know and value the person that grew it. I like the idea of being connected to my food source and having a relationship with my farmer.”
“I recommend this CSA to everyone I know, because the produce
is almost as wonderful as the farmers themselves!”
“I am so used to buying whatever I want at any season of the year.
The CSA has brought me back to the sense of the rhythm of the seasons
and seasonal produce. This is the way it was when I was a kid,
and there is value in that idea."
|Farmers Nyakang and Peter show their CSA friends around their garden.|
Contact Meredith Walrafen at mwalrafen (at) catholiccharitiesks (dot) org or 913-909-1027.