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Project of the Day: FarmBucks

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
17th July 2013


Excerpted from John Robb:

“Here’s a quick glimpse of the future of food, and it’s a good future.

When you and I buy local food, we typically have two options.

We can buy them at a farmer’s market or we can buy them as a weekly delivery through a CSA (community supported farm).

From my perspective, both methods have flaws. The market is too dynamic (risky for the micro farmer) and a subscription is too rigid (too little flexibility for the customer).

Optimally, it would be great if there was a program that had the benefits of both approaches. The flexibility of the market and the shared support of the subscription.

That’s where an innovation from a local farm called “Fat Moon” comes in. They’ve created a program called FarmBucks. FarmerBucks allows customers buy a year’s worth of purchases before the season at a discount to market prices.

That support allows the farmer to cut out extremely expensive financial and retail middlemen to purchase seed and labor for the growing season (note that this similar to what is going on with Kickstarter and the development of new products). The farmer then brings the variety of different vegetables produced to a local farmers market to sell.

The supporter/customer then has the flexibility to select when to purchase food (they can skip a week) and what to purchase.

This sounds like an interesting innovation. Combine this with software from places like Buckybox, which allows customers and farmers to act like a dynamic community, and we’re getting closer to a resilient solution.” (http://www.resilientcommunities.com)

The founder explains:

“Customers can opt in by purchasing a credit, at a discount, to use at our weekly farmstand. Your early purchase helps us by providing the capital we need to purchase seeds and provide labor to plant the crops. You benefit by getting a discount on your weekly vegetable shopping. Additionally, you purchase what you like… that means if you like tomatoes you can just buy tomatoes each week. If you dislike kale, you never have to buy it (even though it is REALLY good for you!). If you go on vacation for the month of July, you can use your credit before and after your travels without worrying about finding someone to pick up your share. If you like to preserve your favorite foods you can purchase large quantities of those items.

We do operate like a CSA in that we don’t have every vegetable every week. Given our small scale, we grow single harvest foods (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli) in batches, so the window of availability may be short, but quantities are large. We’ll let you know via email what is most seasonal and abundant, encouraging you to choose those foods first.

There are extra perks for our FarmBucks members. The biggest perk being the opportunity to pre-order your vegetables each week. When you get our weekly email on the weekend, just send a message with your shopping list for the week. This ensures that you get first dibs on items that are limited in quantity and gives you the best selection even if you can’t make it to the farm when we open the farmstand at 3pm. You will also get first chance to buy tickets for our Farm-to-Table Harvest Dinners. Dates coming soon. As we get to know our FarmBucks members, we find ways to add value and reward you for your loyalty.

Using 3 acres (up from 3/4 acre) of land at Meadowbrook Farm, we will grow and sell vegetables right at the farm. Each week, we will open our farmstand on Thursdays from 3 – 6pm. We’ll pre-harvest some veggies, but if we run out you can take a walk to the field with us to get more. Occasionally we’ll supplement our harvest with vegetables from other local producers. In 2012 our season ran from June 1st through Dec. 20th.”

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