There are now more than 1,500 community supported agriculture programs nationwide. Of those CSAs, a grand total of six are in Dallas.
That's why John Kilburn of Comeback Creek Farm in Pittsburg this year radically modified the standard CSA model, offering a four-week plan to help ease first-time subscribers into the system.
"So many people here are unfamiliar with CSAs," Kilburn explains. "People are afraid of not knowing exactly what they'll get or when they're going to get it."
In a traditional CSA, subscribers pay for a season's worth of produce before the growing season begins. Their pledges help farmers cover the costs of seeds and planting and provide a guaranteed source of income if weather or disease decimates their crops. In exchange for shouldering agricultural risks, subscribers receive a weekly box with their share of the farm's bounty.
While many small farms no longer rely on subscribers to keep their operations afloat, CSA's have remained intensely popular with farm-loyal locavores.
Kilburn launched his CSA last year, signing up 19 members for a 26-week plan. But Kilburn concedes many of his initial subscribers had experience with CSAs elsewhere.
"There was a couple from Milwaukee, the East Coast and the West Coast," Kilburn recalls. "I was trying to create a plan that was more acceptable to people."
Since the introduction of the short-term subscription plan, Kilburn's membership ranks have swelled to 50 people.
Kilburn says the trial plan -- priced at $100 for four weeks - appeals to shoppers who aren't sure they'll be able to use the seven to 10 surprise fruits, vegetables and herbs included in each box, or know they don't want what happens to be in season.
"Right now, we're picking spinach, turnips and beets," says Kilburn, who uses the Dallas Farmers' Market as his CSA pick-up site. "Maybe people who don't like that want to wait until spring when we have berries."
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