The recent joint initiative between the city of Belfast, Maine Farmland Trust and four banks to create special savings accounts for community supported agriculture could be a good idea if it makes it easier for residents to save money toward the annual, lump-sum payment farms with CSA programs typically require.

Like the old Christmas club accounts they are modeled after, CSA savings accounts would spread out a larger cost over time and potentially make the clunky pay-now-eat-later model a little more streamlined. Then again, nothing that was described at the press conference announcing the initiative on Thursday, Oct. 13 is really new.

The participating banks have either re-branded existing time-deposit savings accounts, like those for Christmas clubs, or are simply suggesting another way to use their standard savings accounts, with little or no special financial incentives (though a newly opened account does come with a free membership to Maine Farmland Trust).

What is new, and sort of surprising, is the orchestration of a press conference for what amounts to a sensible suggestion, the sort that might appear in the back pages of a farmer’s almanac — use an old toothbrush to clean between the teeth of a chainsaw, say.

In a city that traditionally hasn’t had many press conferences, this was the second in a period of a month, so that’s probably worth noting, too. And it was pulled off masterfully. There was a display of vegetables, a farmer in muddy pants and boots and a lot of well-dressed city officials and bankers. Just about every media outlet in the area (three newspapers, two television stations and one radio reporter) came out for the announcement.

What this means for the future is probably a lot more press conferences, with or without vegetables.

CSA shares have historically thrived on word-of-mouth publicity, and the pendulum of public sentiment is already swinging toward buying local and supporting local farms. Introducing the idea of saving money as a new “initiative” with special bank accounts is somewhat misleading. But then again, the initiative could have been printed on a flyer, tacked to a bulletin board somewhere and never heard of again. So, maybe it takes a press conference.