Food & Drink

Brokes populi: What do you do if your CSA goes bust?

What risk for farm-fresh eggs? via Next Door Organics
What risk for farm-fresh eggs? via Next Door Organics

The thing about CSAs, aside from being super trendy at the moment, is that they entail a certain amount of risk. After all, they depend on farm yields, so a particularly dry season or a plague of locusts sent by an angry god means you’re going to end up with less delicious healthy food. Or in the case of an email from an angry reader, internal farm politics could leave you holding the (empty) bag if they cut off delivery. So what do you do exactly?

Melissa, a Brokelyn reader who decided to sign up with a local CSA, wrote to us with a tale of woe involving $350 dropped on her seasonal share and the CSA informing her and the rest of their customers that after only 7 weeks out of 20, they would be stopping deliveries. The problem was further compounded by the fact that when Melissa asked about a refund, the CSA told her that the farm’s board of directors would only authorize refunds of one-third of the money people paid them. “I am certainly dreading all the cans of beans in my future,” she wrote to us.

Have any of you faced situations like this? Melissa told us that while she was comfortable with the idea of shared risk because of a poor growing season, it hadn’t crossed her mind “that the ‘small farm’ would have a board of directors that could not only freeze funds but fire the people working the land, and take my money in the process.” Or have you faced other reasons for your CSA not coming through after you dumped a decent chunk of money into it? Do you, like Melissa, turn to many cans of beans? Do you fight like hell for you money and become enough of a pain in the ass that they just pay you?


  1. tatyr

    I don’t know if this would help or not, but I think that Just Food is the umbrella organization for a lot of the CSAs in NYC. They might be able to give some advice. They certainly ought to be alerted as to the board / financial structures of the some of the farms that are doing CSAs.

  2. Marissa

    Yes, I was a member too, and was also told I would only expect $55 of my initial $380 investment after only 7 out of 20 weeks of disbursements. I will NOT be signing up for a CSA share again after this experience.

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