companies can use workplace CSAs as a proactive approach to support health, wellness, and overall satisfaction among their employees. Workplace CSAs offer an affordable, convenient benefit to add to any wellness program. In return, employees gain access to fresh, local produce and the opportunity to support a local farmer or farmer group.
However, implementation of a CSA program that is fully-integrated into employees’ benefits packages in a corporate or institutional setting can be difficult because of obstacles related to personnel, resources, contractual, time, and communications commitments. In their research into workplace CSA models in western Massachusetts, the CISA working group (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture) found that the perceived interest in workplace CSA participation among company employees often exceeded the capacity of Human Resource departments to organize and sustain a program. Companies often assume that a workplace CSA is a simple matter of asking a farmer to supply a weekly delivery of produce.In fact, a fully integrated workplace CSA program involves effective management of communications with the farmer and employees, a shareholder enrollment process, payment processing, departmental
4 approvalprocedures,companypolicynavigation,andcontingencyplans. Notallcompaniesare up to the immense time commitment of a company-wide and company-run CSA program, so innovators from around the country have come up with modified workplace CSA packages to fit the needs of any Human Resource department.
Employees are able to purchase their CSA shares directly from the producer at a price set at the beginning of the growing season. For 22 to 26 weeks, depending on the package employees order, the farmer delivers fresh boxes of certified organic root crops, greens, herbs, peppers, green beans, and eggplant to a drop-off point on the GE campus. In this arrangement, the farm takes on the bulk of the responsibility of communicating with GE’s employees about special events at the farm, the content of the boxes, and important ordering information. The farm offers a variety of ways for CSA members to stay up-to-date on farm activities and box contents, including a weekly newsletter, blog, and online web store.
Workplace CSAs like those between GE Analytical Instruments and Grant Family Farms are sustained by a well-organized, established CSA farm that is able to offer a high level of support and resources. As a result, the resource and time requirements on the part of the business’ Human Resource department are greatly reduced.
Though HealthPartners staff promotes the CSA program and coordinates employee participation, the employees are responsible for purchasing their own whole or half shares, or they can split the cost (and boxes of produce) among their co-workers.
Like the GE Analytical Instruments CSA program, the HealthPartners workplace CSA also shifts the burden of operation to the farm. In their workplace CSA model it is the role of Featherstone Farm to take on all tasks involving the enrollment process, payment processing, delivery scheduling, and communications of the CSA program. HealthPartners Human Resources staff is solely responsible for promotions and authorization from the company to conduct a workplace CSA program.
They also distribute farmer fact sheets and manage online profiles for the vendors detailing their product listings, pick-up locations, and cost and payment options. Employees can sign up with as many of the vendors as they would like, though registration and payment are handled directly by each farmer.
Unlike many other workplace CSAs, the Duke Mobile Farmers Market is able to offer product year round. The twelve farms that make up the program have been specially selected—with help from North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University’s Cooperative Extension Program—for their ability to provide product year round with season extension techniques.
It is up to individual patrons to sign up with the producer of their choice, but the RTI website manages the links to sign-up forms and prepay information. In addition, RTI human resources staff coordinate a yearly “sign-up event” to encourage Park employees and nearby residents to join the program. RTI staff is also in charge of coordinating farmer delivery. Though the farms themselves are responsible for keeping track of CSA participation and payment information, RTI staff assumes a major role when it comes to the workplace CSA’s organization and promotion.