Love fresh food? Love getting a deal while helping out farmers in your area? Well, Community Supported Agriculture may be just the thing for you and your family. For over 25 years, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer.
Here are the basics: a farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a “membership”) and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season. This is a win-win situation for both the consumer and the farmers. Let’s look at the reasons why!
- Ultra-fresh, locally grown produce. This is a top reason why consumers by shares in CSA. Farmers give the best fruits, veggies and herbs to share holders.
- A chance to try new foods! This works very well with children because they have a chance to try fresh foods from a farmer that they have gotten to know. You may even find them try fruits, veggies and other produce that they were reluctant to try before.
- Educational. A chance to understand what veggies and fruits grow best in your area. Many CSA boxes come with newsletters, which often explain field conditions, why the farm is harvesting something early or late (or, sadly, not at all). It’s a connection to the land and the seasons that is rare for urban and suburban dwellers, and immensely satisfying.
- Money saving and access to great buys! Farms often offer seasonal deals to their CSA members. Boxes of tomatoes to can, a neighbor farmer’s grass-fed beef, a chance to get flats of strawberries at the end of the season so they can clear the field. Assuming you use the produce that comes in the box, most CSA members will save money over a similar amount of quality produce bought at the store.
- Farmers get a better Cash Flow! By receiving payments early in the growing season farmers get a better cash flow before the busy 16 hours/day season begins.