Rettland Farm

Rettland Farm

Friday, January 27, 2012

Chicken CSA, 2012

So today I'm going to roll out a new (to us) marketing idea, a new way to get our products onto your tables.

For 2012, I'm going to start a CSA.

Yeah, that's pretty confusing. CSA stands for "Community Supported Agriculture", (not Confederate States of America, for all of you Civil War buffs out there..) That's not much help either.

Basically, a CSA is an arrangement between a farmer (me) and a group of members or shareholders (hopefully some of you) where the farmer grows products for the members, and there is no middleman or other steps in the distribution chain. Other terms to describe it are Buyers Clubs, or Food Co-ops, or Subscription Services. The concept is pretty much the same.

Members go to a central location on a regular basis to pick up their "share" of the farm's bounty. Pretty simple. The payment for the food occurs in the beginning of the season, and then the group shares in the success of the crops or products that the farm produces over the growing season. No money changes hands at the time of sale--it has already occurred long before the delivery of the product.

Typically, CSA's are vegetable or fruit based. I don't grow fruit or vegetables, other than grass or livestock food, mainly because my thumbs are NOT green. They're black. I grow meat. thought was to form a meat CSA, specifically chickens. And since we don't really like the nebulous phrase "Community Supported Agriculture", let's change it up and personalize it. From now on, on my farm, CSA stands for "Chicken Subscription Arrangement". Cool? Good.

Here's the plan:
1. Why are we offering our products this way? I want to operate a CSA that provides fresh chickens and eggs for my members on a weekly basis. I think that this arrangement will strenghten relationships between farmer and eater, which is something that is important to me. It also ensures my members a supply of fresh food, and provides me with a stable, known quantity of products that I have to grow.

2. How does it work? Each "share" in the CSA will entitle the member to 1 pastured broiler chicken each week, usually unfrozen, usually whole, and packaged in a manner to be determined. We will also offer the option of adding 1 dozen eggs from pastured hens, also available for pick up weekly at the same time as the chicken. Each share will have a total cost for the year, and will be prepaid before the foods are produced.

3. What are the specifics on the products? This CSA will produce pastured broiler chickens, weighing approximately 4.0 lbs or more, but not less than 3.5 lbs. These chickens will typically be commercial white broiler chickens, with occasional heritage breed chickens provided as available for variety. The diet for the chickens, besides pasture, will contain whole grains (excluding corn), oilseeds, and vitamins and minerals. All processing of the chickens will occur on the farm, and be done by the farmer and/or farm employees.

The optional egg share will be made up of one dozen typically brown eggs from pastured laying hens. The eggs will be ungraded, but egg size is typically large or greater, and will not be smaller than Medium.

4. When will the CSA begin? End? The CSA will provide fresh food to the members every week from about May 15, run for about 30 weeks through the summer and end around late November or early December.

5. Where is the pick up location? The member will pick up their share at the farm, located outside of Gettysburg, PA once per week, usually Saturday. (However, if we have a concentration of people interested in becoming CSA members that live in other areas, we may have other pick up points--please ask if you think this is you, especially if you are from the Baltimore, Frederick, or Washington DC areas.) Our pickup hours will closely match the Adams County Farmers Market hours at the Gettysburg Outlets, which is only about 2 miles from the farm. That way, you can pick up your CSA share and then stop at the market for other great Adams County products, all in one trip!

6. What is the cost? The cost for 1 share in the CSA for 2012 will be $14 per week for a period of 30 weeks, for a total cost of $420. An optional egg share can be added for an additional cost of $4.00 per week. The total cost of the share will be paid by April 15, 2012, with a minimum 50% deposit due by March 1, 2012. (There may be a few limited opportunities for individuals to exchange labor doing light farm tasks in exchange for a CSA share. If you would prefer to exchange labor for a share instead of cash, please contact me.)

7. One share not enough? So your family eats more than one chicken a week, eh? OR, you are a planner and want to stock up on chickens for the winter while we are actively growing them in the summer? Good for you. Simply order as many shares as fits your needs.

8. Other benefits? Some CSAs do cool things like share recipes for harder to cook items. I'd like to teach people how to break down chickens into pieces, as some families prefer. Share tips for making stock (a must when you have access to fresh, flavorful whole chickens). Spend an hour with us on a harvesting day. Get a personalized tour of the chicken pastures. I'd be willing to do any or all of these things, if the interest was there. Anything to build a food community around our humble little chicken enterprise, and a sense of ownership for the members. What ideas do you have??

OK, team. I think I've thrown enough info at you for one sitting. Mull it over with your families this weekend. Decide if it's right for you and yours. Feel free to contact me with questions in the comment section--chances are, if you have the question, someone else does too.

If you decide you'd like to go ahead and join the inaugaral Rettland Farm Chicken Subscription Arrangement, send me an email at . We'll work out the specifics from there.

Thanks for your consideration. This is gonna be fun.


  1. How much chicken per week would we get if we bought a share?

    1. One chicken per week for 30 weeks, per share.

  2. Hey Beau, Love the idea and I would like to support it. Is it possible we could do twice a month? The weekly pick up would be tough for us from York. What do you think? The Horning's

    1. For my sanity, we have to stick with weekly pick ups for all. But let's see if we have any more interest from your area, and maybe we can decrease the travel. Thanks guys.

  3. What does you average size bird weigh? (trying to get a price per pound comparison).