Community Supported Agriculture is a win-win solution for Cape Codders in search of fresh fare.
If you’re having trouble finding local fish on Cape Cod, you aren’t looking in the right place. “You won’t find it in the big supermarkets. You have to look a little harder for it,” says Dave Henchy, a Brewster resident and the founder of Cape Cod Fish Share.
Henchy’s business is one of the Cape’s many community supported agriculture (CSA) programs striving to satisfy current consumer demands for quality, local food. A CSA is essentially a subscription food delivery service: A customer pays a fee to a farmer up front, then enjoys a regular haul of fresh, quality food from harvest. The payments provide a guaranteed customer base for the providers. Reminiscent of an earlier time when we bought milk from the milkman and meat from the butcher, this business model allows for a more direct connection between customer and farmer—or fisherman, as the case may be.
As Henchy sees it, a CSA has no downside. “It’s all good as far as the business model and the customer service model,” he says. “People like that they only pay once and the price points are low enough. We have a good relationship with our customers and people help the business grow organically—they’re all talking to their neighbors and their friends.”
The biggest challenge facing these businesses might be what farmer Carrie Richter, of Peachtree Circle Farm in Falmouth, calls the “supermarket mentality”—we are used to getting what we want when we want it. Says Richter, “People always want me to have more than I have. I do run out of stuff and I run out pretty early.” A CSA program gives consumers a taste of what it is like to live and eat with the seasons while also exploring and experimenting with types of local foods that may be new and unfamiliar.
The fact that most CSAs on Cape Cod have waiting lists speaks to the popularity of the concept and the strength of current demand. Here, we feature two local businesses that use the CSA as a critical component of their success. Each is dedicated to the idea of offering high-quality local food and educating the public—proving that agrarian businesses survive and thrive here on Cape Cod.