More Wisconsin Employers Set Up CSA Drop-Off Sites At The Workplace

Some Companies Also Offer Payroll Deductions, Other Incentives For Workers Interested In Shares Of Produce

A Ridgeland Harvest CSA package that includes broccoli, basil, and scallions. Photo: Maureen McCollum/WPR News.

Craig Scott pulls up in a delivery truck to his first stop of the day: Trane Company in La Crosse. After calling security to tell them he’s arrived, Scott lifts the door on the back of his truck.

Community supported agriculture (CSA) boxes filled with fresh vegetables and herbs are stacked to the ceiling. It’s clear that basil is part of this week’s delivery, since the smell overpowers everything else. In addition, says Scott, there’s “broccoli, basil, zucchini, beets, kohlrabi, Swiss chard, (and) scallions.”

Trane is one of many employers who are setting up CSA drop-off sites in their offices, enabling workers around Wisconsin to take boxes of fresh vegetables home with them after a long day of work. Later in the day, Trane employees will pick up their box of organic produce that Scott has dropped off from a small closet dedicated to the CSA drop-off.

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Viroqua-based Ridgeland Harvest, whose produce Scott is delivering, makes about 75 percent of its income through CSAs. Partially because more workplaces in the La Crosse area are establishing drop-off sites, its sales are up this year.

Julie Garrett is the community program manager with FairShare CSA Coalition, which received a “Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin” grant to help expand and streamline workplace CSA programs, mostly in the southern half of the state. Garrett said she thinks more employers will continue to get on board each year. She said there are so many ways businesses can get involved, with the most basic example being dedicating space to the drop-off.

“But others … offer payroll deduction and incentives to joining up. They have cooks come in and teach classes, they organize farm events,” said Garrett. “So they’re kind of invested at a higher level with workplace CSA.”

Garrett said that can help improve employee morale and be a form of team building.

Some health insurance companies in the state even offer a CSA rebate, so members can get cash back for signing up.


Craig Scott unloads 18 boxes of produce outside a Trane Company building. Photo: Maureen McCollum/WPR News.

A University Embraces CSAs

Craig Scott continues his workplace deliveries around the La Crosse area, dropping boxes off with a construction company, two hospitals, and eventually, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. There, he wheels seven Ridgeland Harvest boxes into an empty meeting room and neatly places them on a long table.

This is the first year UWL has set up a CSA drop-off site. About 50 employees get weekly and biweekly packages from two different farms.

Deanna Kabliska, who works in human resources at UWL, helped set up the CSA site as part of a staff wellness initiative.

“Usually there’s one vegetable eater out of every family,” said Kabliska. “Just introducing some of those different things for their family members is really great. As we look more and more at overall health and well-being, eating is a big piece of that.”

Kalbiska said they want to continue the program next summer and hope more employees will sign up.

Back on the delivery route, Scott adds that beyond healthy eating, CSAs can be a huge economic boost for farmers.

“Anything that will support farmers, I believe in, so I think that’s a big part of it,” said Scott. “We’re from Wisconsin, so agriculture is an underpinning of our economy, especially in this area of La Crosse County, Vernon County, Crawford County. There are a lot of organic growers and farmers in there so it’s good to support.”

Plus, he said, CSAs gives coworkers something fulfilling to talk about around the water cooler.