Whole Foods Offers Free Drop-Offs for Floridian Farmers
Whole Foods is launching a program in Florida offering local farms
free use of its stores throughout the state as drop-off and pick-up points
for weekly deliveries under the state’s Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA)
According to The Miami Herald, the supermarket is rolling out
the program across the state after testing it with two farms at five Florida
stores. One caveat is the store has to have enough room to hold the drop-off
The first CSA program in the U.S. started in 1986 in New England but
such programs have been significantly expanding in recent years with the popularity
of fresh food, according to the article. Registered CSAs in the U.S. more than
tripled over the last five years to 4,000, according to Local Harvest, a national
directory. The average CSA has about 100 members.
For $20 to $40 a week, members
of a CSA program can buy fresh food from local farms at prices similar to the
grocery store. A downside is that they can’t order what they like, but typically
get whatever was picked fresh the previous day. They also benefit more from
good harvests and less from bad ones.
For smaller farms, Whole Food drop-offs
eliminate the chore of driving product each night across the state to customers’
homes while exposing scores of people to the CSA concept.
"I see this as the future of our business," said Teena Borek of
Pride, a farm in South Dade, FL. "The CSA is how the small family farm
will survive. You have someone to buy your crop that appreciates it."
Benblatt, spokesman for Whole Foods in Florida, told the Herald that
the program is a natural extension of the chain’s efforts to support
local agriculture. At least 20 percent to 30 percent of the produce at each
Whole Foods store is sourced locally. It has pledged to educate customers about
CSA and promote such programs with in-store signage. Although the drop-offs
offer some competition, it is also hoped to drive traffic.
"They may end up buying a little less from us," said Mr. Benblatt. "But
at the end of the day, everybody wins because more and more people are going
to support local agriculture."
Discussion Questions: What do you think of Whole Foods’ support of Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs? What’s the likelihood that such programs will catch on with other grocers across the country?