Life and thoughts from a small-scale organic farm . . . and its farmers

This is a blog that explores ideas around the growing of food and community at Glen Valley Organic Farm.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

2011 CSA Subscriptions Now Available

Glen Valley Organic Farm runs a small Community Supported Agriculture program in partnership with the NOWBC Co-op. Members of the CSA become partners with the farmers -- they purchase a share of the crop at the start of the season and receive a weekly Harvest Box over 16 weeks in the summer. Our first season of running our CSA was in 2009. The 2011 season marks a change for us as we increase the size of the CSA program and decrease the number of markets where we sell.

We are now selling subscriptions for our 2011 season. Read on to learn more.


We grow 45 different certified organic crops at Glen Valley Organic Farm. By growing a diversity of crops we are able to offer a wide selection to our customers through a Community Shared Agriculture program and at Farmers Markets. This diversity also protects us against weather and pests that inevitably wreak havoc on individual crops one year to the next. Direct sales to the public provide us with an income that allows us to use sustainable practices while also paying fair wages to our employees.

We think a Community Shared Agriculture program is an excellent way for consumers and farmers to connect and work with each other. By paying for a share of the crop at the beginning of the season, members help their farmers to cover start-up costs that often require lines of credit. In return, we provide subscribers with the first pick of our finest produce at incredible value, along with regular farm updates and opportunities to visit the farm -- both to work and for fun.

We recognize that a CSA program doesn't meet everyone’s needs. As a result, we invite you to read through the information below to determine whether or not our CSA is a good fit with your eating habits.


The Glen Valley Organic Farm CSA costs $520 in 2011. Half-shares are available for $320 (a half-share costs more than half of a regular share to cover packing and delivery costs, which are the same regardless of the share size). A $100 deposit is required immediately to hold your spot for new subscriptions. 2010 subscribers have until 1 February to pay their deposit. The remainder for all shares is due by 1 April.


The CSA starts mid- to late-June, depending on when crops begin to mature. It will run for approximately 16 weeks, although we may provide slightly smaller boxes at the start of the season and extend the program by one week, depending on selection and quantity available.


In Vancouver our CSA boxes are delivered to pick-up depots by the NOWBC Co-op. Please check their depot page to see if there is a drop-off near you. Deliveries are made on Wednesdays or Thursdays, depending on the depot.

We will also deliver boxes to our stand at the Langley Farmers Market (Wednesdays) and the New Westminster Farmers Market (Thursdays). If there are enough subscribers, we will also consider drop-off locations in other south of the Fraser locations (Surrey, Walnut Grove, Fort Langley, Abbotsford and/or Mission). Let us know if you live in one of these areas and would be interested in hosting a drop-off location.

Box Contents

Each week's box contains a variety of in-season fruit and vegetables from our farm. We grow 45 different fruit and vegetable crops. A box is sufficient to provide vegetables for a family of four for a week. Some members who are vegetarian or follow raw food diets use all of the contents themselves. Other members share their boxes with another couple or family. Many members also preserve some of their box contents for winter eating. To determine whether this CSA is sufficient for your needs, consider whether you normally spend $32/week on fresh vegetables. If not, you might want to consider finding someone to share your box with.

A late-August 2010 box looked like this:

1 bunch Rainbow Chard
1 bunch Dandelion
1 Romaine Lettuce
1 bunch Dill
1 lb Green Beans
1 bunch Beets
2 Mini-Cabbages
3 lbs Carrots
1 Long English Cucumber
2 Slicer Cucumbers
2 Garlic Bulbs
1.1 lbs Leeks
2 Sweet Onions (one red, one white)
2 Beefsteak Tomatoes
1 bunch Green Onions

Substitutions and Cancellations

We are unable to accommodate substitutions. In order to help you learn how to use vegetables that might be new to you, we will include regular recipes on our farm blog at We are also unable to cancel boxes. As a CSA subscriber, you are purchasing a share of the season's harvest, regardless of holidays or other obligations. If you are going on vacation we invite you to offer your box to a friend or neighbour. We also offer an option through NOWBC Co-op to donate your box to a food bank if you are unable to use it on a given week.

Connection with the farm

There are a number of benefits to being a member of our CSA. This includes:

Work parties
This might not have been on everyone's list, but some people requested a CSA in a truer model of shared agriculture -- including the work. As a result, we will try to organize a few weekend work parties throughout the season when you can come out and work with us on specific projects. In exchange, you can choose additional produce to take home or even create your own box for that week. Plus, it's a chance to see the farm at different stages of the season and an opportunity for us to get to know our members better.

Fun parties
Our CSA members are invited to our open house in May or June and we're also going to plan a big harvest shin-dig for late September or early October. This will include a large potluck and a preserves exchange. Last year's CSA parties were a blast.

Farm updates
Our weekly blog posting will provide you with an insight into farm operations, thoughts about agriculture and a number of recipes to help you learn about new ways of using the vegetables in your box.

How to subscribe

To subscribe to our Harvest Box CSA, mail your deposit cheque for $100 along with your contact information (address, phone number and e-mail) to the address below. We will notify you when we receive your deposit. The remaining amount of our subscription fee will be due by 1 April. Alternatively, if you live in Vancouver you can enroll and pay online through NOWBC. E-mail glenvalleychris (at) gmail (dot) com for more info on this option.

Glen Valley Organic Farm

8550 Bradner Road, Abbotsford BC V4X 2H5

Small-Farm Business Planning Resources

If you've been following my Twitter account or reading up on the local small-scale agriculture news, you may have noted that I've been teaching the Business Planning component of Kwantlen University's Richmond Farm School this fall. For anyone working on starting a new small farm, here is a summary of some of the business planning resources I would recommend.

***Updated 9 December 2011***

Business Planning

  • Business Planning for Small-Scale Community Farming Enterprises. Published by FarmFolkCityFolk and The Land Conservancy. This is an accessible, step-by-step guide to business planning for small-scale farms. Excellent for use as a workbook, although the end business plan may need some refining, based on a more professional business planning template.
  • Guide to Starting a New Farm Enterprise. The Province of BC’s business planning guide for small- and medium-sized farms. A very good guide for understanding the components of a successful small- to medium-size farm enterprise
  • Urban Farm Business Plan Handbook An excellent resource for researching and writing a business plan. Written for urban farms, this document has detailed worksheets to help guide users through the process of developing a useful business plan.
  • SmartFarm: A centralized site by the Province of BC's Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, providing information about programs, events and resources for farms.

Business Management
Finances and Bookkeeping
  • Farm Financial Records: A Guide to Managing for Success. Published by the Canadian Farm Business Management Council. A comprehensive guide to managing your financial records. Available through (along with a variety of other publications that might be of use).
Whole Farm Plan
  • Whole Farm Plan Guide. Published by FarmFolkCityFolk and The Land Conservancy. When purchasing a property and/or establishing a farming project a whole farm plan helps develop an assessment of the farm’s capacity, resources and opportunities. It also helps to benchmark ecological indicators and, ultimately, develop shared vision and goals for those involved in managing the land.
Land Access Agreements
  • A Guide to Farmland Access Agreements Leases, Profits à Prendre, Licences and Memoranda of Understanding. Published by FarmFolkCityFolk and The Land Conservancy. Comprehensive guide to types of land access agreements, benefits and drawbacks of each and sample agreements.
Local Government
  • BC’s Farming and Food Future: A Local Government Toolkit for Sustainable Food Production. Published by FarmFolkCityFolk and The Land Conservancy. At times, the best plans for sustainable agriculture run up against local government regulations. This guide offers a toolkit for advocating change to municipal regulations around agriculture.
  • Small Farm Canada. The perfect resource for Canadian small-scale farmers. Covers a variety of agricultural and business-related topics for fruit, veggie, livestock and agritourism plus much more.
  • Growing For Market. An American resource, written specifically for farmers who market primarily through farmers markets and CSAs. Great info on growing practices, marketing and tools. One of the best publications for small farmers operating a farm enterprise for profit.
  • Stewards of Irreplaceable Land. A BC-based apprenticeship program, linking farmers and apprentices from across Canada.
  • WorkSafeBC. Once you find your employees, you’ll have to enroll in WorkSafeBC so your workers are covered by the provincial workers compensation program.
Coleman, Eliot. (1995) The New Organic Grower: A Master’s Manual of Tool and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener. Chelsea Green Publishing.
  • Not a business planning resource, per se, but an essential introduction to organic growing. Excellent demonstration of how to merge thinking about crop planning, marketing and deciding what to grow based on what sells. Crucial if only for one piece of advice: don’t try to farm without taking a day off each week!
Henderson, Elizabeth. (2007) Sharing the Harvest: A Citizen’s Guide to Community Supported Agriculture. Chelsea Green Publishing.
  • An essential resource for starting a CSA. Includes everything from crop planning through to alternative means of engaging under-serviced communities. Based on work by North America’s original CSAs.
Wiswall, Richard. (2009) The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook: A Complete Guide to Managing Finances, Crops, and Staff—and Making a Profit. Chelsea Green Publishing.
  • A business planning handbook written specifically for organic farmers. More suited to the scale and focus of small-scale vegetable farms. Includes a disc with planning and efficiency tools.
Canada Revenue Agency
Business Risk Management

Profitability on a small farm, Paul and Sandy Arnold. The best summary article of how to approach the management of a small-scale farm.