May 7, 2024
Keeping CSA members engaged and loyal

Since the pandemic, community supported agriculture (CSA) programs have enjoyed a resurgence of interest from consumers. We shouldn’t take this renewed interest for granted.

Historically, CSA programs rely heavily on member retention for sustainability and success. Keeping members loyal not only ensures a stable income for farmers, but also fosters a sense of community and commitment to local food systems. Retaining members, however, can be challenging in a competitive market.

Implementing effective retention strategies is crucial for CSA programs to thrive. Here are some proven strategies for keeping members engaged and committed.

Brian Moyer
Brian Moyer

Clear communication Effective communication is crucial. Keep members informed about farm updates and upcoming events, and share stories about the produce and farmers. Use various channels such as email newsletters, social media platforms and farm blogs to stay connected with members.

Additionally, seek feedback regularly to understand members’ needs and preferences better. Diverse product offerings Offering a range of products can enhance member satisfaction. Work with other local farms to include seasonal fruits, vegetables, herbs and specialty items in your CSA boxes that your farm doesn’t produce to cater to different tastes and preferences.

Consider partnering with local producers to offer additional products such as eggs, dairy, meat or baked goods, providing members with more value and variety. Flexibility in membership options Provide flexible membership options to accommodate the diverse needs of members.

Offer different subscription lengths (e.g., weekly, bi-weekly, monthly), customizable box sizes, and delivery or pickup options. Allow members to pause or cancel their subscriptions temporarily without penalties to accommodate vacations or unforeseen circumstances, fostering a sense of trust and loyalty.

Member engagement activities

Organize engaging activities to foster a sense of community among CSA members. Host farm tours, cooking workshops or tasting events, where members can connect with each other and learn more about agriculture.

Encourage members to participate in volunteer opportunities on the farm, strengthening their bond with the farm and its community. Loyalty rewards program Implement a loyalty rewards program to incentivize repeat membership and referrals. Offer discounts, freebies or exclusive perks to long-term members or those who refer new members to the CSA program. Recognize and appreciate members’ loyalty through personalized thank-you notes or special gifts, reinforcing their commitment to supporting local agriculture.

Educational resources

Provide educational resources to empower members with knowledge about farming practices, seasonal produce and cooking techniques. Share recipes, meal planning tips and preservation methods to help members make the most out of their CSA shares. Consider hosting webinars or sending out informative newsletters to educate and engage members throughout the season.

Continuous improvement Regularly evaluate and improve your CSA program based on member feedback and market trends. Be open to experimentation and innovation, whether it’s introducing new crops, refining distribution methods or enhancing customer service.

Demonstrate a commitment to continuous improvement, showing members that their input is valued and acted upon. By implementing these effective retention strategies, CSA programs can strengthen relationships with members, foster community connections, and ensure long-term sustainability and success.

Brian Moyer is an educational program associate with Penn State Extension. As founder of PA Farm Markets LLC and founder and manager of the Skippack Farmers Market, Moyer specializes in assisting farmers markets, retail farm markets, direct-to-consumer sales, and new and beginning farmers with marketing, business and regulatory issues.



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