When we started our CSA program almost 12 years ago, never in our wildest dreams did we think it would take off like it did. Beginning with 50 shares in our first season and growing to over 2200 shares at our peak, the program has evolved and changed based on suggestions from you, our members. You have helped us shape the program over the years by being informed, involved customers who care about fresh and local, in addition to supporting local farms.
We take great pride in knowing that each year, we have fulfilled our promise to our CSA members by providing everyone with fresh, locally grown, in-season, high quality produce throughout the Minnesota growing season. But, that comes with a cost. We have reached the point where we can’t continue to offer the program as it exists today without negatively affecting the overall financial health of our farm.
We have come to the difficult decision to eliminate our CSA program. This decision didn’t come easily. Over the years, we listened to what our customers have wanted, doing our very best to give you just that. We added and eliminated pick-up sites. We adjusted and added different share sizes. You requested additional communication, and we delivered. We customized an online platform to manage the program more efficiently and give you more control over your delivery and communication preferences. We believe the program became the best that it could be. We heard from the end-of-season surveys that most of you agree with us, making this decision even more difficult. That’s why we took some extra time to share what went into our decision-making process.
While we considered many ideas to make it more sustainable for the future, we couldn’t make a go of it. We looked at investing in reusable packaging, reducing the program length, raising prices, eliminating even more pick-up sites, reducing crop offerings, and limiting the number of shares. But at the end of the day, no matter how we considered reconfiguring the program, it all amounted to a lesser CSA experience than you have become accustomed to. That didn’t sit right with us.
The Challenges We’ve Faced
Just like many businesses, Untiedt’s has seen a significant increase in operating costs over the last three years. We spent the 2023 season gathering data, evaluating processes, and examining the costs associated with the CSA program. Don’t get us wrong, there are plenty of things that we do on the farm that aren’t for profit.
But when we realized that this program was losing money each week due to the extraordinary amount of labor associated with harvesting, packing, and delivering over 1500 shares weekly, we had to make a decision. We began to think that there must be better ways to give our customers all the benefits of a CSA program without the rising, suffocating costs.
What the CSA Program has meant to Untiedt’s
For us, the CSA program wasn’t just a weekly distribution of fresh produce. It was a way to educate our customers about Minnesota agriculture.
- This program gave us the opportunity to bring families to the farm so kids could experience harvesting their own food for the first time. Kids, and even some adults, learned that carrots come from the ground!
- It gave us the opportunity to teach about seasonal eating in Minnesota.
- The CSA program helped us build a community around people like you, who wanted to support and learn about local agriculture.
We knew we couldn’t eliminate the CSA program without an alternative that not only works for Untiedt’s, but for you as well.
Welcome to the Future!
We went back to the drawing board. We read the surveys from this season and dove into surveys from past years. A new idea was born.
A program designed to help you get the most out of the Minnesota growing season. A program that gives you what you value the most from your CSA, removes some inconveniences, and allows us to live up to our motto, We Grow For You, for years to come.