Dirt Rich

33: Growing a CSA from 8 to 80

June 23, 2021

Dan Zimmerli is the SFA Community Organizer and Outreach Coordinator, and he also farms full time. He and his wife operate Cedar Crate Farm southeast of Mankato, growing produce for their CSA members. They started out with 8 members in their first season in 2015, and six seasons later they’ve grown it to 80--always with a goal of lifestyle balance in mind.

Dan grew up on a corn and soybean farm in Redwood County, so he wasn’t new to agriculture when he started his own farm. He was drawn to growing produce because he enjoyed making personal connections with customers and knowing that they were taking home a high quality product that they could eat that day. 

“Our goals right now are really to make our farm truly sustainable in a holistic sense.” For the Zimmerlis, this includes being able to take Sundays off. To be able to leave the farm in the hands of their employees from time to time and take a trip. Technology, making processes more efficient, training employees well, and adding infrastructure have all played a role in growing their business while not spreading themselves too thin.

 

His advice to budding farmers considering a CSA model:

  1. Start small. You want to deliver a good experience, because recruiting a new crop of members can be a lot of work.
  2. Network with fellow growers and/or like-minded individuals
  3. Try not to lose sight of the other things that you enjoy in life. Take time to enjoy them.
  4. Don’t discount the financial management and marketing pieces of your business.

 

Thoughts? Comments? Ideas? Drop us a line on our Virtual Comment Box.

Jared Luhman, SFA Soil Health Lead

Dan Zimmerli, SFA Community Organizer and Outreach Coordinator, Cedar Crate Farm

 

The viewpoints of the speakers expressed within or outside of this episode do not necessarily reflect the goals and mission of SFA.

Dirt Rich is produced by the Sustainable Farming Association.

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