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Missouri Ag News Headlines
As Local Food Market Changes, Farm Introduces New Model
Missouri Ag Connection - 05/11/2018

Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms - which are farms that sell seasonal farm box subscriptions to local consumers -- have lost customers in recent years due to increased competition and changing consumer demands.

According to Ryan Galt at the University of California in a study of 1,454 current and former farm share/CSA members, the top four reasons that members leave are all due to lack of choice in the share.

This season, Millsap Farms is introducing a partnership with Harvie, an online farm share platform, to help overcome this limitation and better serve local consumers.

"In the past, we've packed a standard box of food for each member regardless of what they like and what they don't like, but we know that some people hate beets, or eggplant, or arugula, and some people can't get enough. Harvie allows us to customize each box so we make sure each member gets what they want," said farmer Curtis Millsap, owner of Millsap Farms located north of Springfield.

Harvie allows each CSA member to set preferences of what vegetables they do and do not like. Then each week, Millsap Farms enters a list of all the crops that are ready for harvest and Harvie's algorithm matches the harvest to each member's preferences to give each member a perfect box for that week's harvest.

The member has 24-48 hours to make changes to their box and order extras. Then Harvie feeds that information back to Millsap Farms for packing and delivery.

Harvie also provides cooking tips, recipes, and videos based on contents of the box. That way, members will have lots of information when they get asked, "What's for dinner?"

"There's no fresher or tastier way to buy food than directly from your local farmer. Harvie facilitates these direct farmer to consumer relationships and helps farms compete as the food marketplace shifts rapidly, exemplified by the growth of meal kit delivery services like Blue Apron and the acquisition of Whole Foods by Amazon," says Simon Huntley, CEO of Pittsburgh, Pa.,-based Harvie.

To learn more about the shares, visit www.millsapfarms.com or go to www.harvie.farm/signup/millsap-farms to sign up.

Millsap Farms is a first generation family farm, growing vegetables and community north of Springfield. The Millsaps have been farming here for 10 years, growing a variety of vegetables ranging from asparagus to zucchini. The Millsaps sell through an on-farm market, Farmers Market of The Ozarks, a Community Supported Agriculture Program, and through local restaurants. The Millsaps grow year-round, using greenhouses, unheated polytunnels, and other techniques to grow and harvest 50 weeks a year.

Harvie connects users directly with trusted local farms who deliver shares of fresh farm products customized to your personal preferences. Harvie is the result of nearly a decade of working closely with farms to meet their technology needs as well as observation, interviews, and research into the CSA/Farm Share market and the local food system.

University of Missouri Extension; through the efforts of Horticulture Specialist Patrick Byers, Horticulture Educator Kelly McGowan, and other MU Extension specialists -- has provided educationalal programming and consultations over many years leading to production and growth improvements at Millsap Farms.

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