Starting a Hazon CSA

Looking for the Adamah CSA that delivers to Jewish Local Greens in West Hartford? Click here.

Hazon partners with synagogues, JCCs, and other Jewish institutions across North America and Israel to create Jewish Community-Supported Agriculture programs. Hazon CSAs runs like any other CSA (weekly vegetable pickups from a local farm, delivered to a central location), but also uses the CSA model as a platform for inspiring Jewish education and community building. The program started in 2004 and we currently have over 65 communities across the world. Hazon CSAs run out of synagogues (reform to orthodox; large congregation to a small havurah), JCCs, day schools, Hillels, and other Jewish institutions.

Hazon provides numerous types of support to our partnering synagogues and JCCs:

  • The Hazon CSA Hub (an online resource of articles, recipes, program ideas, divrei torah, etc.)
  • The “Hazon CSA Bible” (a comprehensive instruction manual)
  • In-depth training at Hazon’s annual Food Conference in December
  • Ongoing phone trainings throughout the year on topics like: marketing, building a farmer relationship, planning educational events, evaluation etc.
  • Individual phone and email consulting for questions and trouble shooting
  • Marketing and outreach support
  • Access to the active Hazon CSA listserv community and communities across North America

Our partnering synagogue/JCC provide:

  • Space for weekly vegetable distribution
  • Local leadership (volunteers and/or staff) to coordinate all aspects of the project
  • Administrative support from the Rabbi / Executive Director
  • Marketing and outreach support
  • A commitment to sending representatives to Hazon’s Food Conference training
  • A program fee to Hazon
Download an application today!

Frequently Asked Questions about starting a Hazon CSA

Click on the questions below for answers to some of our most common inquiries. Or, email csa@hazon.org to find out if CSA is right for your community!

How does a CSA work?

Before the growing season, Hazon CSA members purchase an entire season of produce from an organic family farm.  Each week during the growing season, usually from Shavuot (May/June) until Sukkot (October), a local farmer makes a delivery of fresh, organic vegetables (and in some cases fruits, eggs, flowers and/or herbs) to your host institution.  Hazon CSA members come to pick up their “share” of the food.  Hazon CSA sites also typically offer at least one or two educational programs and a farm trip, so that members and their families come together to learn about food through the double prism of Jewish tradition and contemporary life.

How does Hazon CSA benefit farmers?

Hazon CSA puts Jewish purchasing power into local, organic farming.  The share price paid by each member goes toward the cost of growing and distributing a season’s worth of produce and paying the farmer a living wage.  Since Hazon CSA members are paying in advance of the growing season, members share the risks (e.g. drought, too much rain, etc.) of the season with the farmer as well as the bounty when the crop is harvested! Having money from Hazon CSA in advance of the season also helps farmers because that is when they need to buy seeds and other items for the farm; this process also lets farmers know how many people they are growing food for.  Most farmers say that knowing the people who eat their food and having a relationship with them is a benefit.

By creating a national network of Jewish Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, Hazon’s work benefits farmers in several ways.  Hazon teaches each Hazon CSA site how to organize and run the CSA program, creating a reliable distribution channel for the farmer’s crop that is much less costly to the farmer than alternatives such as selling produce at a farmer’s market.  Since Hazon teaches Hazon CSA volunteers and staff how to recruit members and market the program, farmers can focus on farming!

How does Hazon CSA benefit your synagogue or JCC?

Hazon CSA energizes your members, brings new individuals and families into your community, and strengthens your institution.  Here’s how:

Hazon CSA energizes your members by:

  • Strengthening your members’ connection to the synagogue/JCC by giving them a new way to participate in community life;
  • Improving the health of your community by providing fresh, organic produce;
  • Being a platform for innovative education programs for adults and families from cooking classes and farm visits to text study at a “green” Shabbat oneg;
  • Spurring a new dialogue about what kosher, or “fit,” food is, and thus renewing members’ sense of excitement about what it means to keep kosher.

“[Hazon CSA is a] very tangible way to begin discussion about who we are as Jews – what we are eating, what we are thinking about, how we are living on the earth.” – Hazon CSA Site Coordinator

Hazon CSA brings new individuals and families into your synagogue/JCC by:

  • Opening a welcoming door to unaffiliated Jews;
  • Offering a non-traditional way to get involved;
  • Creating opportunities for inter-faith community-building as people of all faiths join your Hazon CSA.

Hazon CSA strengthens your synagogue and JCC by:

  • Placing your institution at the cutting edge of contemporary food issues that are important to your members and prospective members;
  • Offering new marketing and fundraising opportunities as you reach out to individuals who care deeply about health, environment, and food issues;
  • Building a new cadre of lay leaders as core group members are trained to run the program;
  • Offering a new way to engage your Hebrew school students and families in synagogue programming;
  • Raising your institutional profile through media coverage.  Twelve of the Hazon CSA sites in North America received coverage in local press and/or radio during their first year, and many have received additional coverage in their second year.  The Hazon CSA program hosted by Congregation Tifereth Israel in Washington, D.C. was featured on the front page of the Washington Post.

What are the program costs for my synagogue or JCC?

There is a $2,800 program fee the first year of the program.  This fee includes:

  • Intensive training for 2 coordinators who will launch and run your Hazon CSA program.  Training takes place starting during the Hazon CSA track at the Hazon Food Conference.  Program fee includes 2 free registrations to the Food Conference (December 29, 2013-January 1, 2014).
  • Ongoing consultation for site coordinators, with conference calls, one-on-one phone assistance, and an on-line list serve.
  • The Hazon CSA Hub: an online resource containing program ideas, recipes, sample newsletters, divrei torah, etc.
  • The Hazon CSA Bible: A comprehensive manual that guides new sites through all the steps required to start and operate a CSA, including finding a partner farm, marketing and recruiting members, setting up a distribution site, organizing volunteers, creating a weekly newsletter, and getting feedback from members to evaluate the program.  Includes all templates and timelines for marketing program, managing share payments, and more.
  • The Program Bank: an on-line manual with step-by-step guidance on how to run a range of community education programs.
  • Weekly articles and other materials for your newsletter. Learn more here.
  • A webpage for your site, if you desire. This webpage allows sites to market the program to their community and to make the registration form readily accessible.
  • Access to Hazon’s international distribution network and marketing support for events and CSA marketing in your home community by email.
  • A shared community of other site coordinators who can serve as mentors and supports.

Administrative costs for your synagogue/JCC may include purchase of a table and/or scale for food distribution, copying flyers or postcards for marketing, copying weekly newsletters, and purchasing food or other supplies for education programs.  The cost of travel to the Hazon Food Conference will vary depending on where your site is and how many people attend.

Administrative costs are generally not prohibitive, and many sites cover these costs by adding a small ($10-$18) administrative fee to each member’s share price.  Please note that it is not advisable to charge the $2,800 program fee to your members.  Hazon CSA farmers work hard to keep their costs down to keep share prices affordable.  Please speak to the Rabbi or Director at your synagogue or JCC about other options for funding the program fee.  Hazon staff are also available to discuss strategies for funding your program.

What kind of training does Hazon provide?

Hazon staff assists first year sites in all start-up procedures, including negotiating prices and contracts with farmers, creating a site-specific marketing timeline, creating an effective member database, developing a strong core group of volunteers, and setting up/managing a distribution site.

After the Food Conference, the staff is available via email and phone for questions.  Hazon staff conduct monthly phone conference training calls covering a variety of topics related to running your Hazon CSA as well as continuing education calls related to Jews, Food and Contemporary issues.  These conference calls allow networking among sites, with best practices and ideas being shared by site coordinators and core group members.  Throughout the season, Hazon’s support includes the online CSA Hub, a substantive weekly article for the newsletter, continued support and troubleshooting via email and phone, and assistance in creating an evaluative survey for members.

How do I apply?

Check out the Food Conference webpages!

What kind of training does Hazon provide?

Yes!  Hazon can design special intensive educational programs, including “scholar-in-residence” programs that are tailored to the interests and needs of your synagogue or JCC.   You can see a sample of these programs on our CSA hub. Please contact csa@hazon.org for more information.