St. Paul Farmers Market 6/22/24 7-1pm Mankato Farmers Market 6/8/24 8-12pm Sleepy Bison Grill Food Truck @ Schells Brewery, New Ulm 6/7/24 12-7 pm

Meat CSA Program Now Available!

written by

Craig Fischer

posted on

January 20, 2021

Are you aware of what a CSA is?  Why should you support us?

CSA stands for “Community Supported Agriculture.” Legend has it the CSA concept was developed in Japan, as a way for locals to support a farmer that they deemed necessary through financial, and labor means. The farm partners payed to help tend the gardens, weed them, and care for the produce it yielded, thus ensuring their preferred farmer had enough time and food to yield the food that they needed. In return they received a share of the seasonal production, as it was available. Their share of the production was then used to feed their families. The concept eventually was adopted on the Eastern coast of the United States, and different CSA models have since spread to other areas of the world. Did you know Wisconsin, has one of the highest concentration of CSA's in the country? Did you also know, Canada developed high tunnels to extend their growing window into the cold weather months? Did, you know most CSA's provide vegetables only? Alright that last one may have been a dead give away... Alright, we all understand the concept now, right? Customer supports farmer by paying for some or all of the membership up front, and some or all of it at different times in the growing year (typically at each delivery). Customer receives box or bag with seasonal products delivered to a set delivery point at an agreed upon time, customer picks up box/bag, and puts product in fridge or freezer as needed. Some are weekly, some are monthly, some are by the season of the year.

Why is it important?

CSA stands for "Community Supported Agriculture," it is a concept that was meant to truly connect the consumer to the natural world, while supporting the farmer that produces a sustainable, necessary product. The customer supports the farmer, the farmer provides for the customer. The CSA becomes a way to connect not only the farmer directly to the customer, but the customer to other like-minded customers in the area, forming a new kind of supportive community. 

Are you going to stop selling by the cut?

Heavens no. The website will continue to take orders, and we will still be attending the Mankato Farmers Market. The CSA option is purely for those people that want to guarantee access to our proteins, with seasonal variability. Additional items can always be added to the order.

Why should you support it?

Farming is a gamble. It is high risk, and can be extremely expensive (This is why you will not find me gambling at a casino...Farming is an everyday gamble). Farm income is highly seasonal, and reliant on producing a sellable product. Typically that means farm cashflow is not a straight line. Bankers like straight lines, they are predictable. Some farmers have found a CSA helps provide income in the "dead months" of winter, when cashflow is minimal or even nonexistent. For some, it is an injection of life at just the right time. Those farms can then use the CSA subscription deposits to float their expenses, such farm inputs as seed, feed, necessary equipment, young stock, etc. CSA’s then know ahead of the growing season exactly how much they need to produce, and when, and can plan their production year accordingly. Most CSA's produce just a little bit more than they have subscriptions for. 

Why should you support us?

We are not going to force you to support us. A monthly delivery is a commitment that needs to be picked up in a timely fashion. Paying for a portion of the CSA up front is a commitment. Your support, while appreciated, is up to you. You are, as always, welcome to come to the farm in person, take a tour, see whatever you want to see, and ask any question you want to ask. We are proud to say we are customer certified.

We, Craig and Elizabeth, live on the "Home Farm." Craig grew up here, and is the 4th generation to farm here, and our 3 little boys, the cutest little boys you can find, are the 5th generation. We focus on building regenerative practices into our production, such as high stock density grazing, bale grazing, and rotational grazing. We don't want to sustain a degraded resource, we want to regenerate it. The healthier our soil becomes, the healthier our plants and animals become, which leads to healthier consumers. We do not use chemicals of any kind on our pastures. We source non-GMO grains from the family farm, and spent grains from Sleepy Eye Brewing Co. Shoot, the bison are even soy-free. 

What is the Plan?

Right now we are in the "planning stages." The idea of "Monthly Meat CSA" with recipe suggestions and a "Weekly Egg CSA" have grown on us to the point we feel we are ready to accept applications. Applications can be as simple as including your name, address, phone #, email, and preferred pickup location (all part of a Grazecart account) and the subscription you want.

Option 1: The Egg CSA 

Available all year round for $180, pending participation from the girls in the winter months. Thus shares will be limited in number, and limited to the local area around the farm. Pickup or local delivery only. Please note eggs will remain an option to add through the farm website to monthly Meat CSA orders as available. Save $25 if you sign up by March 15.

Meat subscriptions will be $60/month (2 people, 3-4 meals a month), or $110 a month (Family of 4, 3-4 meals a month). Sign up by March 15 and receive a $10 monthly discount.

Shipping is available for a monthly subscription to your door of $85 a month (2 people 4-5 meals a month).

Option 2: The Bison CSA

Available the whole year, but will be split into two different programs, the Summer CSA, and the Winter CSA. The Summer CSA will be the longest, running the 7 month span of April-October, featuring summer favorites like bison patties, bison brats, bison hot dogs, bison breakfast links, steaks, bison summer sausage, snack sticks, jerky, etc. The Winter CSA will run the 5 month span of Nov-March, featuring bison ground, roasts, bison summer sausage, bison breakfast ground, bison snack sticks, bison jerky, soup bones, etc. Delivery will always have a backup date, or two, because we live in Minnesota, and the winter weather may not cooperate.

Option 3: The Mixed Protein CSA

Available the whole year, but will be split into two different programs, the Summer CSA, and the Winter CSA. The Summer CSA will be the longest, running the 7 month span of April-October, featuring summer favorites of bison and pork cuts. The Winter CSA will run the 5 month span of Nov-March, featuring winter favorites of bison and pork cuts. Delivery will always have a backup date, or two, because we live in Minnesota, and the winter weather may not cooperate.

Can I apply to be a host site?

We are absolutely accepting applications for a host site. Host sites enjoy becoming a place for the community to gather, while occasionally enjoying some Sleepy Bison Acres host perks. Please contact us to discuss if you may be a good fit. Considerations may be the location of your home/business, the proximity to like minded farm supporters, and accessibility to the drop site.

We would love to have your input on this venture of ours! What would you like to see in your box, what kind of recipes you would like to have, etc. If you would like to support and apply to Craig or Elizabeth through text, Facebook, or the Website. 

More from the blog

Buckling Down to Bear the Cold

My goodness where has the summer gone? It seems we went from a waning summer, to a short lived fall, straight into 8” of snow in October with an expected low of 9 degrees a week before Halloween. Goodness, too early for that. The family farm was working on harvesting corn until the snow chased us out of the fields. It is early, and we are confident the snow isn’t here to stay. If not, we will have 100+ acres of deer habitat standing until we can get it out of the field. We wouldn’t have minded another longer opportunity to fill the sheds with hay either, or to be done with the pigs before the white fluff comes. Feeling a bit bad for them, as they don’t have hair like the bison, but they do have plenty of dry bedding, food, and water. They will be fine for a few days, and then bye-bye piggies until next spring. With 3 boys at home, there are likely countless toys scattered across the yard. Undoubtedly there would also be some toys and balls scattered around the porch, that were used to try and keep the chickens away from the porch. As you can imagine, a flower bed with wood chips is a losing battle with 200 curious chickens. The days are getting colder, and the tasks needing to be completed seem endless. We are looking forward to continuing to harvest the bison that are scheduled, as well as the opportunity to harvest the winter hides with their prime hair coats. These can be tanned and made into a rug, or a "hair on robe" (we would call it a tanned hide), hung on a wall, table centerpiece, lofted railing cover, etc. They are so well insulated I bring our tanned hide out to the open deer stand to help keep my feet warm. I have literally slept with the tanned hide as my blanket and woke up at midnight drenched in sweat. This upcoming January we are also planning to retire our long time herd bull, sometimes grumpy, photogenic bison. He has been with us since 2013, when we got our first animals. It will be a sad day, but a necessary day for our family farm to move on and progress. Every harvest is a time to thank that animal for its sacrifice, so that we may live and thrive, and a time to remember a healthy, wonderful life. We take harvest seriously, whether it be animals or family grains. It is a sign of a hard production season, or 3 for the bison, coming to an end. Time to button down the hatches for winter, and plan out the next growing season and harvest.