You’re familiar with Community Supported Agriculture? Sitka Salmon Shares is part of the expanding “Community Supported Fisheries” movement.
“We connect fishermen to fish lovers in the same way that CSAs connect farmers to consumers,” says Marsh Skeele, the company’s founder and vice president.
In 2012, Skeele was looking to shift away from the less profitable commodity market and toward the people who would appreciate — and pay for — the pristine king and coho salmon he was pulling out of the chilly waters near Sitka, Alaska.
He sent some salmon to a friend in Illinois who was throwing a benefit dinner. When guests wanted to know where they could get more of the fish, the buddy turned into a business partner (he’s Nicolaas Mink, Sitka’s CEO) and a new kind of Alaskan pipeline materialized.
Eight years later, the venture (sitkasalmonshares.com) has expanded to a collective of 22 family-owned boats that supplies households in five Midwestern states with four varieties of salmon, along with black cod and halibut.
No detail is overlooked, from the hook-and-line catch to the flash-freeze finishing touch. The company also handles the majority of its deliveries. When a box lands on a doorstep, it contains a hefty serving of information: the boat where the fish was caught, cooking tips and place-making stories about the crew and the region.
“We try to build a connection to what we’re doing up here,” says Skeele.
Shares start at $109 per month for a 4½- to 5-pound shipment. Chicago is the company’s largest market, but the Twin Cities metro area is a growth hot spot, with 900 members — a number that continues to escalate.
“With people stuck at home, and looking for home-delivered food, sales are booming,” Skeele says. “It’s been wild.”