Millsap Farms introduces innovative new model to promote choices
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms – farms that sell seasonal farm box subscriptions to local consumers — have been losing customers in recent years because of increased competition and changing consumer demands.
In a study of 1,454 current and former farm share / CSA members, Ryan Galt of the University of California, found the top four reasons that members leave are all due to lack of choice in the share.
With this knowledge in hand, Millsap Farms north of Springfield has introduced a partnership with Harvie, a new 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,” says farmer Curtis Millsap, owner of Millsap Farms located north of Springfield. “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.”
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 then has 24-48 hours to make changes to their box and order extras. Harvie feeds that information back to Millsap Farms before packing and delivery.
Harvie also provides cooking tips, recipes, and videos based on contents of the box. That way, members 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,” adds Simon Huntley, CEO of Pittsburgh, Pa.-based Harvie. “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.”
Millsap Farms is a first generation family farm, growing vegetables and community north of Springfield Mo. The Millsaps have been farming here for 10 years, growing a variety of vegetables ranging from asparagus to zucchini. The Millsaps then sell through an on-farm market, Farmers Market of The Ozarks, a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Program, and to local restaurants. The Millsaps grow year-round, using greenhouses, unheated polytunnels, and other techniques to grow and harvest 50 weeks a year.
Owners Curtis and Sarah Millsap can be reached at by telephone at 417-839-0847 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Harvie connects users directly with trusted local farmers who deliver shares of fresh farm products customized to their 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.
Through the efforts of MU Extension’s Horticulture Specialist Patrick Byers, Horticulture Educator Kelly McGowan, and other MU Extension specialists — educationalal programming and consultations over many years have led to production and growth improvements at Millsap Farms. Learn more about other available programs and resources at www.extension.missouri.edu/greene.