It’s come to our attention that many people are still unsure what a CSA is and why they are such a great thing to be a part of! So…what is it?
Consumer Supported Agriculture (CSA)
A farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public. Shares typically consist of a box of produce, but other farm products may also be included like jams, baked goods, eggs, soaps, herbs, and more! Many farmers will team up with other local farmers or businesses to provide the largest selection of fruit, vegetables, animal, and/or dairy products they can.
Now is the time to get signed up! Typically farmers take a survey from their pledged consumers before the planting season so they can be sure to provide as much of the things you want as they can. Let your voice be heard by signing up before seeds are in the ground!
How does it all start?
Interested consumers purchase a share/membership and in return receive a box, bag or basket of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season. Although half shares are available, a full share will range somewhere between $400-$700 per season for weekly deliveries often from June through late fall. Not bad at all if you compared the same amount of produce with your grocery store, and you get MUCH fresher and generally more sustainably produced food!
Feel good about your place in the food chain!
With a very large amount of produce in supermarkets being trucked and/or shipped in from other regions or countries, a great deal of farmers have turned to monoculture (growing one crop in massive quantities) in order to turn a profit. You can help keep traditional farming alive and provide a reliable income for small farmers by sharing in a CSA program!
CSAs provide the freshest of local produce and sometimes the opportunity to try produce that you may never have known existed! That is super exciting for those bored with the same old selection at the store. Many CSA farms have a couple of events throughout the season which allow its members to visit the farm and see where their food comes from! Some farmers also provide newsletters/communications sharing with their members ways of preparing the vegetables they received and different recipes to utilize their weekly bounty.
It sounds great! What’s the catch?
Well as we all know, growing anything outdoors poses potential problems due to weather, pests, and other conditions beyond our control. Every year farmers take the same risk and, although they take preventive measures to prevent as much loss as possible, sometimes full crops can get destroyed. But turn this around in your head; CSAs provide the chance for the community to support the farmers and share in that risk! Understand that sometimes you may get less of your favorite crop or it may be less than perfect, but on the flip side when crops are abundant you can find yourself with more produce than you ever could have expected! This usually makes you the favorite neighbor on the block when you have to offload extra produce or share a dish you made extra of!
Check out the local CSA options at www.localharvest.org and search based on your city or zip code.