What Is CSA?
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a way for consumers to purchase local food directly from a farm by entering into a contract with the farmer. Members become “partners” with a farm by paying up-front for a subscription, or “share,” of produce that is received on a weekly basis throughout the growing season. By investing in the farm at the beginning of the growing season, members provide financial support to the farm when it is most needed for seeds, supplies, etc. This approach also takes out the middleman – providing a good value for the consumer and fair prices to the farmers for their produce.
Over the past several years, the innovative CSA approach has become extremely popular with consumers who want to directly support small, local farms while providing fresh and healthy food for their families. The Web site LocalHarvest.com lists more than 2,500 CSA programs nationwide, and the number is growing.
Local Harvest lists some advantages for farmers and consumers who participate in CSA programs:
- Eat ultra-fresh food with all the flavor and vitamin benefits
- Get exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cooking
- Usually get to visit the farm at least once during the season
- Find that kids typically favor food from “their” farm – even veggies they’ve never been known to eat
- Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown
- Get to spend time marketing the food early in the year, before their 16-hour days in the field begin
- Receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm’s cash flow
- Have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow
Shares are available in three sizes (half, single & family) and are delivered to the member’s pickup site of choice at the same time each week. They include a range of whatever produce is being harvested that week – a delicious and educational experience that helps members to understand what it means to eat foods that are in season. One of the most exciting elements of belonging to a CSA program is the opportunity to experience the amazing range of produce that is available in our area. Being a member of a CSA is like having a garden in your backyard – without all the work!
We’ve found that members who have the most rewarding CSA experience are people who:
- Enjoy experimenting with new foods and new recipes – we do our best to provide ideas for what to do with the items that appear in your box.
- Recognize that their weekly menus will be based on what they receive in their shares (rather than developing a menu first and shopping for the items).
- Understand that all produce is not perfect in appearance – especially produce that is grown without harmful pesticides.
- Get out to the farms and meet the families who are involved – we hold monthly field nights and farm visit days, and we love to meet our members.
- Understand that the items provided in their shares will be chosen for them based on what is available in the fields.
- Are willing to freeze, preserve or share items when quantities are beyond what can be consumed in a given week.
- Aren’t afraid to eat their greens! Members receive healthy amounts of kale, Swiss chard, collards, bok choy, lettuce, etc.
Check out the full review about CSAs at this link: