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.
PS: The photos of the CSA box and harvest celebration above are from Suzie’s Farm in San Diego. Also, this month’s resilient strategies report is in post production. Should be out soon.
PPS: Here’s an example of how expensive retail distribution middlemen in the US are. A dairy farm sells milk to the branded distributor for $0.25 a gallon. It’s sold at retail for $3.00 to $5.00 a gallon. It’s a broken system.
PPS: Some farmer’s are telling me that they tried something like this and ran into problems with it (customers crowded in at the last moment). That’s something I think some an inexpensive online service like Buckybox can solve. It would allow farms to set some rules (e.g. no more than $40 farmbucks per week) to improve flow control. It would also allow fun and useful premium service options for members (e.g. customers could use the service to select vegetables going to the farmer’s market the next day).