Selling preserves through a shop didn't fit with Rachels ethos of growing and eating local and seasonal food, she wanted local people to have access to local produce. And she wanted to make the preserves from fruit and vegetables grown on the farm but without the worry of having to commit to fulfilling set orders to retailers. A Community Supported Agriculture scheme was just the thing she was looking for.
How does Old Sleningford Preserves CSA work?
- Fruit and vegetables are grown on the farm, harvested when ripe and Rachel then hand makes the preserves.
- Members of the CSA commit to buying a minimum amount of produce each or every other month, for which they pay in advance either quarterly, half yearly or annually by standing order. Additional preserves can be purchased on a regular or one off basis as and when available.
- The preserves are delivered or collected on a pre-arranged date each month.
Basically, the members are receiving a share of the produce, so if the frost gets the plum blossom but there is a bumper harvest of raspberries, there will be plenty of raspberry jam, but there might not be any plum that year. However every member is guaranteed to receive the minimum allocation each delivery.
Benefits of a CSA
For Rachel and Old Sleningford Farm it means none of the harvest goes to waste, a fair price is paid for the preserves and because payment is made by members in advance there is a constant cash flow.
For the members they get good quality products that have been grown and produced very locally, on a regular basis, and can be delivered or collected at a convenient time.
So, the rewards and responsibilities are shared between the producer and the members. Everyone's a winner!
Key to a CSA is that it is sustainable - local products delivered to local people. Old Sleningford Preserves will expand on this by making as many deliveries as possible by bicycle and trailer, and collecting the used jars and bottles for re-use.