What are some resources that can help me decide how many seeds I should buy based on the number of CSA shares?
MissouriAnswer: Thank you for contacting ATTRA for information on how to calculate the amount of seeds to buy based on the number of CSA shares. I have listed several resources below, each of which I would encourage you to explore before selecting whichever tools best fit your needs. First of all, there are a couple of ATTRA publication you may enjoy related to this topic:
In addition, “Teaching Direct Marketing and Small Farm Viability: Resources for Instructors” from The Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems contains planning exercises for farmers (even though it was written for instructors). See the section on CSA Crop Planning. This chapter walks you through the process step by step (see summarized steps below), so that by the end you know how many seeds you need to buy to meet your production goals. It also has examples, tables and worksheets in the appendices.
EXERCISE STEPS (from “Teaching Direct Marketing and Small Farm Viability: Resources for Instructors”)
1. Determine your harvest outcome goals for each crop
2. Calculate numbers of plants per sowing needed to meet harvest goals.
3. Determine the specific dates for the sowings throughout the entire season that are needed to achieve the harvest goals you have established for each crop.
4. Calculate the number of sowings needed per season to meet specific harvest goals.
5. Calculate amount and cost of seed needed to complete the sowings for each crop. A few other resources you may find useful are the following:
- University of North Carolina’s Growing Small Farms Planning and Record Keeping page. Click to download Spreadsheet 2 ? “Planning Spreadsheets for CSA and Farmers’ Markets.”
- Brookfield Farm’s crop planning spreadsheets (used for its own 500-member CSA); their spreadsheets are based on figuring out the number of row feet needed per crop per number of CSA members.
- Colorado State University’s CSA program Web page on production (see the CSA Plot Map, the Planting Schedule, and the Planning Chart for examples of how to organize your planning information).
- Rodale Institute’s CSA Resource page
- Johnny’s Seed catalog vegetable charts