So what are we thinking about next year?
Well, here at Good Life Ranch, we are interested in building a local food network. We want to provide nutritious, flavorful, and sustainably-grown food to the people of Kentucky. We would rather not grow huge acreages of monocultures to sell into the commodities markets nor mass-produce animals for meat. Neither of those things is sustainable nor treats the living creatures with the respect they deserve. Most American farms now do one of those two things, and many small family farms are being driven out of business because of it.
The solution for both the conscientious consumer and the small farmer may be through community-supported agriculture. In this partnership, the consumers (or “shareholders”) are provided with fresh food from the farm they patronize. They customers get to know where their food was grown, by whom, and what methods were used. In return, the farmer gets money at the beginning of the growing season when it is needed most and has a guaranteed market for the farm’s production.
We want to start a CSA program for the 2011 season. We will target the Elizabethtown, Louisville, Lexington, and Danville markets and hope to get 25 families to sign up for a weekly share. They’ll pay us before the growing season begins so that we have the capital to purchase chicks, feed, seeds, and tools. In return, they’ll receive a cooler full of fruit, vegetables, eggs, and meat every week from early June through mid October. Additionally, we will make one final delivery right before Thanksgiving and drop off late fall vegetables and a heritage breed Thanksgiving turkey.
Why should consumers pay up front, you ask?
The benefits for shareholders in Good Life Ranch’s CSA:
- You receive weekly baskets full of farm fresh produce, eggs, and meat delivered near your home. All your food will be produced here on our farm using chemical-free methods. Each week will be like Christmas! One week you may get chicken, arugula, eggs, pears, beans, cilantro, and tomatoes. The next week you may receive peaches, walnuts, blackberries, strawberries, rabbit, sweet corn, and butternut squash. It just depends on the season and what’s ripening at that time!
- You know that the food you are eating was grown beyond organically – you will be ingesting no pesticides, no herbicides, no fertilizers, no antibiotics, no steroids, and no hormones in the food you receive from us. We don’t use any of those things.
- You will be supporting the environment. Many farming methods degrade the land over time, stripping it of its topsoil and fertility. Our methods actually build soils and soil fertility rather than depleting it. We build diversity into everything rather than relying on acres and acres of the same crop. You will not be paying your hard-earned money to large agricultural giants dumping chemicals into watersheds or creating dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico. Instead you will be paying the salary of two hard-working beyond-organic farmers right here in Kentucky who want to take care of their land for future generations. We want to raise our children right here, and we don’t want our children near agriculture chemicals any more than you want those chemicals in the food you feed yours.
- You will gain access to a farm of your own. Good Life Ranch CSA members are welcome to come by anytime to inspect the farm, see how their food is produced, help out in the gardens or greenhouses, or just chat with the farmers! Unlike large-scale food producers and processors, we believe in complete transparency – we’re proud of our methods and have nothing to hide and everything to show off!
- You will be eating “close to home.” Most food travels thousands of miles from farm to plate and is on the road for days – sometimes weeks – before it shows up in the grocery store. Our food is all grown on our farm here in Kentucky and was picked just for you – oftentimes just hours before delivery. You can’t get fresher food than that!
- You get to remain a member for as many seasons as you like. Once you are a shareholder at Good Life Ranch, that spot is yours until you decide otherwise. You don’t have to reapply every year, you don’t have to worry about other people taking your spot. We are committing to you as a long-term customer!
The benefits for Good Life Ranch in having this CSA:
- We get to know who’s eating our food! This can be quite motivating for us. Instead of producing food for “someone somewhere,” we get the privilege of knowing that this last bushel of potatoes goes to the Smith family, or this Thanksgiving turkey belongs to the Martinez family. This provides a wonderful feeling for us to actually know the people who look forward to eating the food we grow.
- We receive the money for the growing season up front, rather than borrowing money against the hope of a good crop. Most of the money we spend on our farm comes months ahead of sales. We have to buy seeds, order poultry, and plant berry bushes months ahead of time we sell them. This CSA will give us the money to buy the food we grow for you at the time we have to buy the supplies to grow it. In return, our CSA members get all of the produce. If we have a good year and grow more than normal – you get more than normal because you “invested” in us when we needed it most.
- We get to share the risks with the consumer. Farming is inherently risky. Some years produce huge surpluses, other years are lean. Small farmers are hit especially hard by lean years. In our CSA, we “risk” losing potential profits in a good year because our produce is already sold. In this situation, the customer receives more produce for their dollar. In a lean year, we share the risk with our shareholders. They will still receive all that we produce, but shares may be reduced in volume or variety. The benefit to the farmer is that he still gets paid for his labor. The farmer still works hard even if Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate.
If you or someone you know lives in the Elizabethtown, Louisville, Lexington, or Danville area and are interested in becoming a shareholder in Good Life Ranch, please watch our website at www.goodliferanch.com. We are working on a new CSA page and CSA application now and they will be online soon. The application will include prices and payment options, expected production for the 2011 year, and expectations for us as farmers and you as consumers.
We are really excited about this idea for the upcoming season, and we hope that we can generate enough interested families to put it together.