March 11, 2011
Flexibility and convenience for farmer and customer
A couple of years ago my brother moved to Providence, Rhode Island, and I went with him to his local winter farmers market. One farm, Freedom Food Farm from Raynham, Massachusetts, caught my eye with their beautiful market stand and high-quality produce, so I looked at their CSA information. It fit neatly on one page and was incredibly simple. Members signed up and then came to the farm or its markets and picked out 10 items each week. End of story. I was inspired.
We decided to try it, with a few variations. In 2018 we offered the “CSA flex” as a part time option, in addition to our “classic CSA”. It was a hit, so in 2019 we added a full-time option. We currently have 25 flex members and have cut our classic CSA down to 40 members. I am mightily tempted to drop it altogether! Perhaps “CSA flex” would be a good fit for your farm.
Rounding is a pricing strategy whereby smaller denominations are excluded from the grand total at checkout. That means pennies, nickels and dimes. The principal incentive for rounding at the farmers market is to expedite the checkout process.
Handling fewer denominations simplifies transactions and reduces the wait time for customers in line. Secondary incentives include uncomplicated cash drawer management, easy deposits and straightforward change requests from the bank. In addition, quickening checkout procedures helps to diffuse the stress associated with long, bustling lines of customers.
To determine whether rounding is the right decision for your business, you must consider the benefits and contrast them with the costs. Some of the benefits described are based on assumptions, others on objective truths. For example, the checkout process is simpler when you’re not handling pennies, nickels, and dimes. This is uncontestable. But you need a more compelling analysis if you are to understand the total relationship between the benefits and costs involved.
If you’re already growing your own transplants, you might want to consider selling vegetable, flower, or herb starts to bring in a little extra spring money. You’re already doing most of the work: mixing soil, sowing, watering, and greenhouse climate control. But there are some important differences in how one grows plants for sale versus for on-farm use.
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