UW Extension teaches farmers to expand operations with CSAs

Mar 19, 2013

University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension is working to educate ag producers about how to set up their own Community Supported Agriculture operations, or CSAs. In a CSA, customers buy a share of a producer’s crop at the start of the season, and then receive portions of the harvest throughout the season.The Extension’s Cole Ehmke says there was a huge turnout at a recent CSA workshop in Thermopolis, and he expects comparable enthusiasm at the next workshop, which will be in Cheyenne.“It’s topical, particularly for Southeast Wyoming, because the Grant Family Farm CSA – which operated out of Wellington, Colorado – served several thousand customers all up and down the Front Range, 250 in Cheyenne, another 200 here in Laramie. They had their own financial management issues, and so they aren’t operating anymore. So there’s a big gap in the market.”Ehmke says there are already 19 CSAs in Wyoming, but the state’s climate and dispersed population are challenges to work with. Now, the Extension is hosting a series of workshops about how to set one up. “What’s in the composition of the share? You deliver a box of produce every week, well what does that box look like? How does it differ from the beginning of the season to the end of the season?” Ehmke says smaller-scale CSAs can complement existing ag operations, helping to grow their businesses, manage extra products, and market directly to customers.More information about the April 12 workshop in Cheyenne is available on the University of Wyoming website.