(Photo above: Farmer Benji Nagel of Mahonia Gardens with happy CSA customers employed by Humm Kombucha in 2018 | Photo Courtesy of High Desert Food & Farm Alliance)
The High Desert Food & Farm Alliance (HDFFA) is making local food more convenient than ever for working professionals with a Workplace CSA program. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture — it’s a plan where customers receive regular deliveries of farm fresh veggies (and sometimes meat or even flowers) throughout the growing season. Many farms in Central Oregon have CSA pick up locations either at their farm or at the farmers market, but HDFFA found that employees appreciated the convenience of a workplace drop off.
For the second year, HDFFA is providing a matchmaking service between local businesses and partner farms. As part of the program, HDFFA pairs companies invested in employee wellness through food with a local farm, chosen just for them. Some businesses, like the Deschutes Onsite Health Clinic (DOC) are interested in Workplace CSA as a way to promote workplace wellness initiatives for their employees.
“I see community supported agriculture as an opportunity to enhance our employees’ health and well-being,” said Juli McKee, DOC Wellness coordinator and HDFFA board member. “It’s a wonderful way to promote a culture of wellness for those in our program as well as the community at large.”
The program helps farmers reach new customers and grows the local food economy. HDFFA’s Meiko Lunetta reported that participating farmers sold nearly $20,000 worth of goods through the pilot program last year. “We conducted an economic impact study in 2016 and found that almost three times as much money stays in the Central Oregon economy when it’s spent on local food,” Lunetta explained. “So this program has already made a considerable economic impact in our region, and there is plenty of room to grow.”
With more than 13 CSA farms in the Central Oregon region, there is ample opportunity to expand the pilot and get more businesses involved this year. Businesses and farmers interested in getting involved in Workplace CSA can contact Program Coordinator Laurie Wayne at email@example.com or visit hdffa.org to learn more.