Community

Community Supported Enterprise

Feb 03, 2015 Country Wisdom News

by Marie Doyon


The CSE Model Explained

Community Supported Enterprise (CSE) is an inclusionary, localized investment model in which community members provide upfront capital to a small business in exchange for later receipt of goods or services. This system is also referred to as Community Supported Entrepreneurship or Community Supported Business. Think subscription meets crowdfunding.

The model was popularized by Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), in which customers forward farmers money in late winter (so they can buy seed, equipment, etc.) in exchange for produce packages in the spring and summer. As people began realizing the amazing luxury of receiving weekly bundles of fresh veggies straight from a local farm, CSAs began cropping up all over the country, running at all times of the year. Beyond just receiving an abundance of nutritious produce, people may have embraced the model so readily because, consciously or not, it was a way for them to support something good and useful and to plug into their communities.

The Preservation Trust of Vermont’s website explains, “This concept responds to the idea that many businesses…play an irreplaceable part in community life that isn’t captured in the daily sales transactions.” By nature the CSE model fosters a sense of community, collaboration, and good will. Because customers are required to provide money without any immediate return, a dynamic of reciprocity is established. Plus any interactions (e.g. going to the farm every week) that the customer makes to receive their goods is a chance for further connection. On the business end, business owners need not fret over securing a bank loan, courting big investment, or selling out to a big franchise.

Stacy Mitchell, a journalist and cofounder of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance writes, “New research indicates that a growing number of people want to live within walking distance of neighborhood stores—a trend that could reduce household driving by 25-30 percent—but banks are often reluctant to finance such enterprises because of what they view as multiple risk factors: independent ownership, small store formats by retail industry standards, limited parking, and market areas with unconventional demographics.” CSE is a way out—it returns the power to local communities. And with this model, in the inevitable power play of supply-and-demand, customers have more power to say what they do and don’t want, creating businesses that are relevant, responsive to the needs of their clientele, and, hopefully, longer lasting.

CSE can raise money through many mechanisms—community shares, micro-loans, equity investments, or certificates (loans paid back over time in food, products or services). In some cases, community members may make donations of labor or professional services or other clever barters.

Mitchell writes, “Although no hard data exist, the number of businesses relying on their customers and neighbors for financing appears to be on the rise. Just as CSAs have played a key role in the rebirth of small-scale farms, so too may these new community-supported enterprise models help launch a new generation of independent grocers, bookstores, and other neighborhood businesses.”

In the long run a strong, small-scale, local economy is the most sustainable model. CSE is based on solid principles; it could be a very useful tool for transitioning away from Corporate America and toward Small Town America.

CSAs in Ulster County
Clove Valley CSA, High Falls
845-687-0535; Clovevalleycsa.org
Season: Late May to early November
Cost: Large Share – $700
Sign-up deadline: Ongoing
Distribution: Fridays and Sundays at 4 pm
Notes: Work exchange available. Please inquire.

Evolutionary Organics CSA, New Paltz845-417-1543; Facebook.com/EvolutionaryOrganics
Season: 21 to 23 weeks from June – early November
Cost: Prepay share price of $350 (free-choice market-style, goods are debited from balance)
Sign-up deadline: Ongoing
Distribution: Wednesdays from 4 to 8 pm at 283 Springtown Road, New Paltz

Huguenot Street Farm, New Paltz845-419-2164; Huguenotfarm.com
Season: 22 weeks from June 4 – October 29
Cost: Full Share: $649; Half Share: $440; Fruit Share: $165
Sign-up deadline: Ongoing
Distribution: Thursdays (4:30 – 8:00 pm), Fridays (8:00 am – 9:00 pm), and Saturdays (8:00 am – 12:00 pm) at 205 Huguenot Street, New Paltz; Thursdays (5:00 – 7:00 pm) at 115 Broadway, Newburgh
Notes: All shares include no-cost unlimited access to U-Pick areas

Kelder’s Farm, Kerhonkson
845-626-7137; Kelderfarm.com
Season:May to October
Cost: $450 half share; $700 full share; $1300 double share
Sign up deadline: April 25, 2015
Distribution: Tuesdays (4-6pm), Saturdays (10am-1pm)

Old Ford Farm, New Paltz
845-220-7819; oldfordfarm.com
Season: 24 weeks from late May – early November
Cost: $370 for the first adult per household + $300 for each subsequent adult + $8 x the age of each child per household.
Sign-up deadline: Rolling
Distribution: Wednesdays (4 – 7 pm) at 1359 Old Ford Road, New Paltz

Phillies Bridge Farm, New Paltz
845-256-9108; Philliesbridge.org
Season: 28 weeks, June-November
Cost: Before Feb 28—Half share: $395, Full Share: $595; Before April 30—Half share: $415, Full Share: $620; By May-June—Half Share: $430, Full Share: $645
Sign-up deadline: Ongoing
Distribution: Tuesdays (3:30-6:30pm), Saturdays (9am-12pm)

Rondout Valley Organics, Ellenville
845-647-6911; Rondoutvalleyorganics.com
Season: Ongoing
Cost: Initial investment of $300 (includes annual $50 membership +$250 credit). Free-choice market-style. Goods are debited from balance.
Sign-up deadline: Ongoing
Distribution: Thursday mornings at 331 Dowe Road, Ellenville

Second Wind CSA, Gardiner
607-216-5061; Secondwindcsa.com
Season: 23 weeks from June – late October (plus Thanksgiving share)
Cost: $550 for 8-12 vegetables and herbs per week
Sign-up deadline: Ongoing
Distribution: Tuesdays (2:30 – 7:00 pm) at 158 Marabac Road, Gardiner; Wednesdays (4-7pm) at 1180 Route 9D, Garrison
Notes: Share includes includes pick-your-own flowers in August and September. Optional egg shares and occasional fruit add-ons.

Taliaferro Farms, New Paltz

845-256-1592; Taliaferrofarms.com
Season: Late May to early November
Cost: Farm Card Membership: $100 initial fee + $100 payment increments; Full Share Membership: $1,000; Half Share Membership: $550
Distribution: Thursdays (9am-7pm), Fridays (9am-6pm), and Saturdays (9am-3pm) at 187 Plains Road, New Paltz

Whirligig Farm, Hurley
845-331-0316; Whirligigfarm.com
Season:
Cost: Student Share: $325-$425 (sliding scale); Duo Share :$400-$600; Family Share: $700-$1,000.
Distribution: Fridays (4-7pm) at the farm, Saturdays & Sundays (anytime) at the farm; Saturday morning (time TBA) at Tweefontein Farm, 4 Jenkins Rd. New Paltz.
Notes: Work exchange available.

CSAs in Dutchess County

Bounty of the Valley CSA, Poughkeepsie
845-454-3747; Bountyofthevalley.org
Season: 20 weeks from early June – November
Cost: Full Share – 8-10 different vegetables each week for $485 (+$36 membership fee); 
Small Share – 5-6 different vegetables each week for $285 (+$36 membership fee)
Sign-up deadline: Ongoing; full balance due by May 15
Distribution: Tuesdays at Hudson Valley Community Center, 110 S. Grand Ave, Poughkeepsie
Notes: Shareholders required to volunteer at distribution a minimum of three hours per household during the season. 

Fishkill Farms, Hopewell Junction
845-897-5194; Fishkillfarms.com
Season: 25 weeks from June through mid-November
Cost: Standard Share – 10-12 items per week (price TBD); Small Share – 6-8 items per week (price TBD)
Sign-up deadline: End of May
Distribution: Friday (3 – 7 pm) and Saturday (8-10) at 9 Fishkill Farm Road; Saturday (9 am – 12 pm) at the Old Stone House in Park Slope, Brooklyn 
Notes: Prices TBD.  Shares include fruit.  May add-on milk and eggs.

Great Song Farm, Red Hook
845-758-1572; Greatsongfarm.com
Season: 22 weeks from June – November
Cost: Peck Share – full grocery bag for $390 – $520 (sliding scale); Basket Share – double the size for $675 – $790 (sliding scale)
Sign-up deadline: Ongoing
Distribution: Tuesdays (3:00-6:30) and Saturdays (1:30-5:00) at 475 Milan Hill Road, Red Hook
Greig Farm (fruit share), Red Hook
845-758-1234; Greigfarm.com
Season: May 8 to October 16
Cost: $425 before Feb. 28; $475 after Feb. 28
Sign-up deadline: Ongoing
Distribution: Fridays (12:00-6:00) at 225 Pitcher Lane, Red Hook

Healthy Harvest CSA, Hopewell Junction
845-226-8877
Season: June – October
Cost: Full share: $325 (family of four); Half shares available for singles and seniors.
Sign-up deadline: May 1
Distribution: Thursdays at 180 Carpenter Road, Hopewell Junction
Notes: Membership includes monthly picnics, end-of-year bonfire party, and playground access.

Northwind Farms, Tivoli
845-757-5591; Northwindfarmsallnatural.com
Season: 6-24 weeks from May-October
Cost: Half Share: $55/week for 6-8 lb. share of assorted meats (poultry, lamb, beef, pork, etc.); Full Share: $75 for 8-10 lbs
Sign-up deadline: Ongoing
Distribution: Fridays at 185 West Kerley Corners Road, Tivoli or weekly Farmers Market in Red Hook, Woodstock, and Kingston.
Notes: Min. of 6 weeks. Weekly or bi-weekly pick-up.

Obercreek Farm, Hughsonville
845-337-1906; Obercreekfarm.com
Season: 22 weeks from June 3 – October 30
Cost: Full Share: 8-15 varieties of produce each week for $650 ($600 before March 31); Half Share: every other week for $375 ($355 before March 31)
Sign-up deadline: Ongoing; discount before March 31
Distribution: Wednesdays (4-7pm) at 59 Marlorville Road, Hughsonville; Fridays (5-7pm) at Ella’s Bella’s (417 Main St), Beacon

Poughkeepsie Farm Project, Poughkeepsie
845-473-1415; Farmproject.org
Season: 24 weeks June – early November
Cost: Working Shares: $632 (large) – $348 (small) (+$45 fee + membership fee); Non-Working Shares: $776 (large) – $420 (small) (+$45 fee + membership fee)
Sign-up deadline: Balance due by April 1 (suggested)
Distribution: Tuesdays (3-6:30pm) and Saturdays (9am-12pm) at Raymond and Hooker Avenues, Poughkeepsie
Notes: Working Shareholders required to work a minimum of 12 hours (large share) or 6 hours (small share) throughout the season.

Shoving Leopard Flower Farm, Barrytown
845-758-9961; Shovingleopardfarm.org
Season: mid-June-hard frost
Cost: $180 for pick-your-own, $200 for pre-picked
Sign-up deadline: Ongoing
Distribution: Pick-your-own from Sunday-Tuesday; pre-picked pick-up Fridays (5-7pm) at Starling Yards in Red Hook (81 Echo Valley Road)

Sol Flower Farm, Millerton
518-567-1951; Solflowerfarm.com
Season: June – October
Cost: Full Share: $650 (includes u-pick); Summer Share: $500 (through September, includes u-pick); Flower Share: $200 (one large market bouquet per week); Farm Shop Share: $300 minimum. pre-paid store credit (includes member discounts on all goods)
Sign-up deadline: Ongoing
Distribution: Saturdays at 41 Kaye Road, Millerton
Starling Yards, Red Hook
646-831-8311; starlingyards.com
Season: 22 weeks from June-October
Cost: Vegetable shares: $465 (6-7 items per week) or $575 (8-10 items per week); Flower shares: $180 for pick-your-own (Sunday-Tuesday) or $200 for pre-picked (Fridays, 5-7pm)
Sign-up deadline: Ongoing
Distribution: Tuesdays (4-6pm) at Rokeby and Fridays (5-7pm) at 81 Echo Valley Road, Red Hook
Notes: $20 off vegetable shares when you sign up by February 15.  Sign up for a vegetable and flower share and get $10 off.  Work exchange shares also available.
Sisters Hill Farm, Stanfordville
845-868-7048; Sistershillfarm.org
Cost: Weekly Share: 4 to 15 lbs. per week for $675 – $775 (sliding scale); Every-Other-Week Share: 4 to 15 lbs. per week for $360- $410 (sliding scale)
Sign-up deadline: Ongoing
Distribution: Saturdays (8-11am) and Tuesdays (4-6pm) at 127 Sisters Hill Rd, Stanfordville
Paisley Farm, Tivoli
845-756-3803; Upstatefarmsny.com
Season: 22 weeks from June4 – October 29
Cost: 4 deliveries: $120; Vegetable Share (22 weeks) $550; Fruit Share (17 weeks): $290; Egg Share: full: $110; half: $60
Distribution: Fridays at Paisley Farm off Route 9, Red Hook

Other Types of Community Supported Enterprise


Non-Produce CSAs
Agriculture is an vast and diverse field, so why should the innovative, community-oriented structure of the CSA model be limited to fruits and veggies? Well, it’s not actually—people just haven’t heard so much about the other ones. There are meat and fish CSAs. Right in Tivoli, Northwind Farms offers meat shares, in which you pick a package with 6-10 pounds of a different meat each week. Poultry, lamb, beef, pork—they have it all. In seaside towns, fishery Community Supported Fisheries (CSFs) are emerging, in which member investors pre-pay to receive different fish and crustaceans each week. Big City Fish Share, Village Fishmonger, and Mermaid’s Garden are just a few such CSFs in New York City. More locally we have the Tree Juice Maple Syrup CSA, in which customers pay for their shares in mid-winter, which helps the farmers offset the season’s start-up costs (tubing, taps, bottles, labels, etc).Tree Juice offers half- and whole-gallon shares, which people can pick up in the spring.


Community Supported Bookstores
Buying a share in a bookstore, is a lot like having a subscription—only you can choose what you receive every month. As book shops close all over the country, the Community Supported Bookstore model is cropping to save the day. Some use a credit line system, where members deposit a set amount of money, and then any purchases they make thereafter are drawn against that balance. Usually they also offer perks, like additional discounts, member only events or opportunities, canvas tote bags for tome lugging. Some use tokens, which are roughly equivalent to one book sale. Community members share in the risk and reward of the business, and help the owners navigate the ebbs and flows of commerce. Word Up Books in Manhattan is a community supported bookstore.


Community Supported Restaurants (CSRs)
CSRs help cover the immense startup cost of opening a restaurant. Member share fees cover the cost of things like purchasing equipment, cookware, dishware and flatware; decorating the dining room and restrooms, creating signage, paying for produce, etc. Some CSRs operate like Community Supported Bookstores, in that all of your purchases draw from your credit balance either. Some offer coupons, and yet others prixe fixe meals a set number of times per month or per year, based on the size of your share. Incentives include things like first access to events, holiday bookings, and prime reservations. There are no such restaurants locally. However, Vermont has several, including the Salt Café, Bees Knees, and Claire’s Bar and Restaurant.


Community Supported Brewing (CSB)

In a CSB, community members pre-purchase a beer share, and they receive freshly brewed beer all year round. Like veggie CSAs, the beer types vary throughout the seasons so you are always getting something new. Usually CSBs offer one beer a month, with six month- or year-long shares. Membership fees help pay for brewing equipment, supplies, and legal licenses. Some CSBs are the Bly Hollow Brewery in Stephentown, NY; Transmitter Brewing in Long Island City; and Big Alice Brewing in Queens.