"Share" program expands at Columbia Farmer's Market
COLUMBIA - High demand from the Columbia Farmer's Market is prompting one mid-Missouri farmer to expand his participation in a program that allows consumers to buy a "share" of his products.
Missouri Legacy Beef Owner Mark Mahnken has participated in the Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, program for the past two winter seasons and will now take part during the summer months.
He said he decided to expand his program and offer it this summer because of the high demand that consumers have expressed.
The CSA program was established 25 years ago nationwide.
It is a way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer in their area.
A farmer offers a certain number of "shares" to the public. The share consists of a box, basket or bag or fresh produce, meat or other available farm products.
Interested consumers purchase a share and, in return, receive seasonal products each week or month throughout the farming season.
The Columbia Farmer's Market hosts some mid-Missouri farmers who have gotten involved with the CSA program in the past two years.
Mahnken said it's a growing program with more and more farmers getting involved.
He said he will be expanding his program so that it is now offered during the summer season with more bundle options.
"This is really kind of the next step for us," Mahnken said. "We're delivering that bundle right there to your home and we see a lot of growth potential."
Mahnken's CSA shares run for a six-month period.
The consumer has the option to go online and pick which share they would like to invest in for that particular season. They can also buy a share directly at the Columbia Farmer's Market.
Mahnken's wife, Susie Mahnken, also helps run Missouri Legacy Beef.
She said it's a great program for them because they receive the consumer payments early in the season which helps with the farm's sustainability.
"It benefits us because it helps keep us on the farm," Susie Mahnken said. "When you have that local demand for local meat, it helps the farm family stay in business. And it helps us keep providing quality beef to our customers."
Maryann Simpson, a customer of Missouri Legacy Beef, said she has participated in the CSA program with the farm for the past two winter seasons and is excited for the opportunity to purchase a share for the summer season as well.
She said she enjoys the program because of the convenience it offers to consumers.
"They deliver it to your door, in the middle of the winter even," Simpson said. "You just set your bag out and later in the day you come home and find a fresh bag of meat to put in your freezer. And the price is a little bit less actually than it is in the store."
The Columbia Farmer's Market is open every Saturday between 8 a.m. and noon.
Visit the Columbia Farmer's Market website to find out which mid-Missouri farmers offer the CSA program.