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Blog Action Day 2012 on the Power of We: FairShare CSA Coalition

Blog Action Day badgeBlog Action Day is an annual worldwide event begun in 2007 that encourages bloggers to write about the same issue for one day. In 2011 MOM shared with us about their food security work. The topic for 2012 is "The power of we," so it seemed like a good fit to share some photos from Bike the Barns, and thank our pledgers and the folks behind the benefit for FairShare CSA Coalition's Partner Shares.

FairShare CSA Coalition's mission is to connect and support Community Supported Agriculture farmers and eaters, with a vision of "a future where Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is the backbone of a strong local food system; where all families have access to locally produced, organic food and have strong connections to their farms, food and community." Kiera Mulvey, executive director of FairShare, took the time to answer some of our questions about FairShare's important and collaborative work.

How FairShare works

"FairShare is a coalition of farmers. Our work is determined in part by what farmers need to raise the bar on local, sustainable agriculture as determined by grower committees. Fostering a network of collaborative, skill sharing professionals interested in improving not only their own farm operation, but also the greater movement is the central mission of our farmer projects.  Basically we work with and for growers to harness and share the vast wealth of expertise and try to encourage skill sharing and overall collaboration. We do this through farmer led workshops, field days, online resources and social gatherings throughout the region."

How Partner Shares works

"The Partner Shares Program offers financial assistance and payment plan options (including the opportunity to use SNAP) to purchase a CSA share from a FairShare Farm. The program relies on self determined need and requires that families seeking assistance have income levels at 185% of the Federal Poverty Level or lower.  This program preserves the "FairShare" (pardon the pun!) price to farmers by ensuring that farmers get adequate compensation for their labor and food while attempting to bridge the accessibility gap and assist low income families with purchasing food directly from farmers. FairShare relies strongly on community partners and advocates to help spread the word of Partner Shares to eligible families for whom CSA would be a good fit, through these partners families apply directly to FairShare and a payment plan that works for their family budget is established. Once families are enrolled their primary relationship is directly with their farm and farmer for the remainder of the season. The funds are allocated on a first come first serve basis."

Trends and challenges

"A positive trend that borders on a challenge is the growing interest in CSA both from the consumer and the farmer end.  We're just thrilled that folks are aware of and interested in starting and joining CSA farms, and want growers and consumers to really, truly understand the commitment that they are making for each other and enter into this relationship of trust and investment with full acceptance of the shared benefits as well as the shared risks.   On the consumer end, knowing your farmer, weathering the storms of seasons and farming with them, and making a financial investment in the farm goes beyond the traditional consumer/producer relationship. On the farmer end, committing to not only grow top quality food planned and delivered throughout the season, but also to communicating in consistent ways, forsaking alternate markets in challenging seasons, and being open to inquiries, feedback, and engagement by CSA members."

Social media and FairShare's outreach

"The imagery, the story, the excitement of the turn of each season and the bounty that comes with the changing harvest...social media helps us tell that story AND, more importantly, gives CSA members an opportunity to tell their own diverse stories of their experiences, their farms."

How can our readers help Fair Share?

"We are a non-profit organization that relies deeply on our community of CSA members, supporters (some folks recognize the critical impact of CSA on their community and also prefer to shop at farmers markets!), and farmers to contribute financially to keep the organization ahead of the curve to reach new markets, educate more folks, and continue to improve access to fresh food for families regardless of their income levels.  We also rely on a host of "CSA Ambassadors" to help us get out in the public, giving presentations, tabling at community events, sharing stories, and helping with office tasks and big events like our annual CSA Open House and Bike the Barns. Certainly joining  CSA farm is a great choice not only for FairShare and our farms but for your readers!"

What's the best way for people to keep up with news about FairShare?

"Sign up for our enewsletter!  We send out detailed updates on our work, farms in our region, and events and activities of our partner agencies every 6 weeks."

You can look for the sign-up form on the FairShare website, and visit FairShare on Facebook. And now, about Bike the Barns!


We love doing the ride, and figure it's something good that can come out of the Eating in Madison A to Z project. It's fun to drum up support and it's gratifying to see how much folks care about supporting local farmers & increasing access to their products.

BreakfastHiiillGranola barsVermont ValleyDropped my water bottle on this

On the other hand, a few times we talked up the event and folks said "Yeah, well, I can do a long bike ride by myself." That's true too.

PBJ ice cream sandwich"Snack" at afterpartyGoat at DreamfarmUntitled

The latest FairShare newsletter had this recap:

This year's ride netted over $60,000 for our Partner Shares program, which allows approximately 200 low-income families to eat healthy, fresh food via memberships to CSA farms. [...]

We were often asked about people's pledges and what percentage goes directly to families. The answer is  about 75 percent; 12.5 percent goes toward the ride's expenses; and 12.5 percent covers Partner Shares' program administration.

So with a staff of 2.5 paid people and an intern, FairShare organized dozens of volunteers and community members to set up a safe, fun event for 500+ riders, who in turn appealed to hundreds more pledgers to chip in for 200 families. If that's not the power of we, we don't know what is!

Anyway, it was a good day. Roger Bindl made a nice video that MadTable featured in his BtB post. FairShare has a pretty photo gallery. Our posts about previous rides can be found back in the archives.


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