Community Supported Agriculture, a method by which individuals prepay for a share of a farmer’s produce, has been around in the U.S. since the 1980s. It was based on the Japanese concept of teikei translated literally as putting a face on one’s food. CSA enables farmers to sell directly to consumers, ensures a certain level of food safety by allowing individuals to see and in some cases work at a farm and creates a mutually beneficial relationship where food dollars stay local and food miles are reduced. As most of you know, I could go on.
Last week, I read two fascinating stories in the Business Journal that take the Community Supported concept to a new level. The first story is that of a favorite restaurant, Coup des Tartes. This elegant, award-winning French restaurant was forced from their location a couple of years ago. Smacking from the landlord blows, the restauranteur vowed to own his next building. And so, he set with criteria; it had to be a historic building and it had to be centrally located.
Facing a costly venture with limited capital, this creative restaurentrepreneur looked to his customers. He created a Coup des Tartes VIP program where customers buy a membership in exchange for benefits such as a discounted meal, bottle of wine and other gifts. They raised nearly $500,000 from this community supported model.
The second artfully written tale, is of a local bar come brew laboratory, the Hop Shop Brewing Company. Hop Shop has a kickstarted campaign going right now to raise the initial funds and beyond that, have created an interesting customer participation model. The venue will house several brewing stations where customers can brew their own beer along with a traditional bar. The more experienced brewers will receive materials to produce two kegs. Then the customer takes home half and the other half is put on-tap at the bar. Each pint sold, applies a credit to the customer’s next batch hence creating revenue and loyalty in a single transaction.
I find both of these examples appealing and further evidence of a new sharing economy.
(yield about 8 servings)
- 2 or 3 bunches of fresh asparagus
- lemon juice from one lemon
- 2-3 Tbs olive oil
- 1/2 cup of pine nuts toasted
- salt and pepper to taste
Wash and trim asparagus discarding any tough stem ends to the compost.
Toast pine nuts in a dry cast iron skillet. Do not walk away – not even for a second though you are tempted. When they are toasted as you’d like, remove them from the pan and set them aside.
Put a steamer in another pan and fill basin with water. Heat to boiling and put asparagus in for 5 – 8 minutes.
Remove asparagus to a platter and drizzle olive oil on top. Squeeze the lemon over the dish taking care not to let lemon seeds drop. Add salt and pepper and scatter pine nuts on top.
What examples of Community Supported Business have you seen?