How to start a CSA

Lessons & updates from Ropsley Market Garden

Ropsley Market Garden is Lincolnshire’s first Community Supported Agriculture project – a membership based market garden, in which the community plays a meaningful part in local food production. 

We are more than consumers!

We blogged about Ropsley Market Garden CSA here last January, and wanted to find out how things were going.

I picked Jemma’s brains on what she had learned, over a year into the project. Here are three things that really stood out:

Start small, grow slow

Rospley Market Garden started small.

The site is just two and a half acres.

Initial funding and resources have also been minimal: a polytunnel and a shipping container, the installation of a tap, some large tarps to keep the weeds at bay.

And one enthusiastic and tenacious woman with her community behind her!

Growth has been incremental, and the strong foundation is the community. 

It’s all about the people!

People get involved and help out in all sorts of ways, not just as members or customers.

For example, by offering woodchip or manure, helping with weeding or garden tasks, and it’s fun for children to get involved with harvesting.

A new collaboration is also developing with local mushroom growers. 

Jemma has a reliable customer base, thanks to local engagement before she even started the project, and is not currently expanding.

It’s far better to have 10-20 happy, satisfied customers than spread too thinly and have slightly disappointed customers. 

“When there’s surplus, I give extras to my regular customers and they like that. I have also given surplus to the local foodbank: we have very little waste.”


Jemma also puts on events – a community bonfire night, a pumpkin planting competition and “No dig & Dine” night have all been popular.

“Feeding people makes them want to get involved!

“People are amazed by the taste. It makes all the difference!”

“I didn’t like veg when I was a child, I would only eat carrots and sweetcorn. I started by growing a chilli plant on my windowsill and it spiralled from there…”

Where from, where next?

Jemma was motivated to start Ropsley Market Garden by many things, including:

  • the importance of being connected to our food and where it comes from;
  • physical, mental and dietary health;
  • wanting to develop community networks;
  • manifesting personal dreams!

Developments for this year will include growing more flowers – both edible and as cut flowers, seed saving for the future and more community volunteer days and events.

Get involved

Find out more:

More Lincolnshire food news from our blog:

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