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How We're Rethinking the Traditional CSA Box How We're Rethinking the Traditional CSA Box
Culture

How We're Rethinking the Traditional CSA Box

by Kim Hunter

September 23, 2013

In tribute to the Nepalese people who guide climbers in the Himalayas, our locally sourced agriculture and recipe delivery program, Tomato Sherpa, was born to assist eaters in the daily feat of getting wholesome meals on the table. The solution was local and simple. Build recipe kits with farm-fresh ingredients and step-by-step instructions to guide busy people or novice cooks through the dinner-making process, and deliver them to corporate offices and homes. But, the process of setting up our small business has been challenging and this is what we've come up against.

Setting Up a Responsible, Reliable Supply Chain

Tomato Sherpa has chosen to put local sourcing at the center of our mission. Because we recognize the importance that sourcing responsibly has to our personal health, our communities and to our ecology. 

We have spent significant time developing relationships with a range of responsible California producers like fruit and vegetable source Kingfisher Farm or pasture-raised meat source Marin Sun Farms, which means ingredients are pesticide and hormone-free. While we work with certified organic farms, we also support smaller farms that have implemented sustainable farm practices. 

With new recipes being added every week, we’re always searching for the best local and responsibly grown ingredients. Not skimping on sourcing means more time and resources, but buying from trusted sources matters.

Making Recipes "Kitable" and Having a Space to Bring it All Together

We take a lot of time to make a recipe "kitable" and to strike the right balance of simple, unique, and delicious. With 60 recipes under our belt, we know that you can’t just pack any recipe. 

Packing a recipe takes space, which in the Bay area comes at a premium. We started in a shared kitchen space in Berkeley, but as we try to grow, each week gets more cramped and our efficiency slows down.

Time, Tenacity and Asking for Help is Key

Any idea that helps to change the status quo takes time, effort, and a little help from our friends. 

Fare Resources, a consultancy that helps businesses at all levels in the food chain be more sustainable, has been essential in helping us to establish protocol around our sourcing and fulfillment process. 

Co-working spaces, like the Impact Hub Bay Area, and organizations, like investment strategy company Slow Money, have been essential to our growing network of resources. There are many small organizations working together to crack the code on scaling local businesses, and it is amazing being part of this collective group (like farm to fridge grocery delivery company Good Eggs or online farmers market Lolabee's Harvest).

In order to grow this sustainable business, we launched an IndieGoGo campaign to help us get into a larger facility and out of our cramped kitchen space, and if you have ideas about kitchen spaces we can collaborate with, please share them. Click here to add it to your To-Do list.

If Tomato Sherpa raises the funds to scale up our operations, we can help these local producers expand, which will make fresh, local ingredients more accessible and available. We can make a real difference for the farm to fork mission. Challenges are part of changing the status quo, but with patience, passion, and asking for your support—we can do it!

http://www.youtube.com/embed/HjCT-CdaKC0

This project is part of GOOD's series Push for Good—our guide to crowdsourcing creative progress.

Infographic courtesy of Nick Dyer

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