COUNTRY Financial® employee, Mariah Anderson, and her husband Greg, talk about how “opening the farm gate” helped them increase their business and find new opportunities.
Two years ago, Greg & Mariah Anderson1 decided to take a chance on a new venture. They own Triple M Farm: Mariah’s Mums & More. Their venture? They became the first farm in Dewitt County, IL to offer their own community supported agriculture (CSA) program.
Why create a CSA? Mariah says the creation of their program stemmed from their desire “to connect consumers with a local product and open their farm gate to the community.” Members purchase more than just produce from the Anderson’s; they buy a share in the farm.
The first year
Developing and supporting a CSA program was no easy task. During their first year, Greg and Mariah signed up 25 members. By the second year, this number was 75. As they enter their third year in business, they are partnering with a local company to provide their CSA as an employee benefit in conjunction with their wellness program. This opportunity also allows them to have their own farmers market on location. Without Facebook, this connection would never have happened. It’s a great example of why social media is the perfect medium for farmers to engage with their community.
It's all about connecting
Mariah said, "Running a CSA is no easy task but providing for the community is worth it. It’s really about connecting with our customers. At the end of the day, when I see a member post a photo of our produce on social media, that’s exciting. If you’re looking to expand your business and secure product sales, it might be time to open your own 'farm gate' to your community."
Interested in starting your own CSA?
Follow these steps to get started:
- Visit the U.S. Small Business Association website (https://www.sba.gov/). Find courses, articles and tips for building and managing your business.
- Contact your state’s specialty growers association. Get answers to questions you may have.
- Find a mentor. Learn from someone who already runs a business.
1Mariah Anderson is employed by CCSI.