The produce of the family farm is coming to New York City office buildings. And, that has become possible through Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA.
A CSA is a program in which consumers pay a farmer ahead of time for automatic delivery of fresh, nutritious vegetables and fruit during the growing season. Farmers have expanded CSA programs to New York City lawyers, including the international law firm Winston and Strawn.
The 40-hectare Glebocki vegetable farm in this town some 96 kilometers from New York City has been a family business since 1894. Its current owner, John Glebocki, is an enterprising young man who has kept the farm going and growing by expanding his CSA program to a variety of businesses with direct delivery to their offices.
According to Glebocki, the idea is not new.
“CSA has been around for a while," he said. "We’ve adapted it and actually take it to places of business, much like the Winston and Strawn law firm, and bring the shares of food almost literally to their desks.”
Winston and Stawn has 24 customers purchasing the fresh food program at a cost of $525 a share for 22 weeks of food delivery.
“What’s good about it as a grower is to have payment for product up front. It gives you something to work with to pay for seed and so forth. But, it also gives you a known sale.” Glebocki said. "It gives you a guarantee. You know what you can move, and you know what you get for it. The price is set and there is more stability in that.”
Vegetables in season
The variety of vegetables that are delivered is considerable.
“We will go in the course of our 22-week program and we’ll go through over a hundred different types of vegetables," Glebocki said. "Many different types of root vegetables, different types of greens, season items like tomatoes and sweet corn.”
“We get into the fall, a lot of those squashes, all different types of cooking greens, salad greens, rooting herbs. It’s a pretty large spectrum,” he added.
Each share usually receives up to eight different vegetables each week.
Glebocki says the biggest attraction to the shareholder is that “they are getting stuff that is at its peak when things are supposed to be ready and actually seasonal. “
The Glebocki Farms delivery truck is loaded at the farm every Thursday afternoon and evening and makes its way to New York City at around 5 o’clock Friday morning, arriving around 8 a.m. for delivery.
Postive reaction at law firm
Martina Owens, director of administration for Winston and Strawn, got the blessing of the partners of the firm to go ahead with the program and then began the task of signing up prospective shareholders.
"I thought it was just a great way to not only support local farmers but offer our employees the ability to pick up fresh and healthy vegetables at the office,” she told VOA.
“One of my biggest initiatives here is to bring people together in the office. And this has done that 100 percent," Owens added. "We have people sharing recipes. It brings together our partners, our associates, our staff coming to pick up the vegetables, so it’s been really a good positive sharing experience. “
Owens said that she hopes to expand the CSA program to fruit growers as well.
Reaction from Winston and Strawn staff has been universally positive.
Renee Zimmerman thinks everyone should join.
“It’s a great way to keep our farmers in business so that we insure we continue to get fresh produce," she said.
“It’s nice to get this fresh produce every Friday. I don’t have to run to the grocery store; it’s really convenient for me," said Victor Barnett, a company recruiter.
And one of the young lawyers, Mikaela Evans-Aziz is most enthusiastic about the program.
“We love it. It’s the only fresh food we get in our diet. We have such crazy hours, we look forward to this every week,” she said.
Keeping the family farm in business
And, it's farmer John Glebocki who says, “The importance of the program is as a buffer to economic uncertainties of agriculture.”
This stability in many ways can keep a family farm in business.