CSA: What Is That?
Community Supported Agriculture or CSA…what does that even mean…
CSA’s were established as a way for the farmers to get payment at the beginning of season when they need it most for seed, compost, and fertilizer. You, as a community, are supporting the farmer. When you sign up for a CSA you are agreeing to accept whatever the season produces. Every year is different on a farm and it can mean one crop does better than another. Farmers typically have no control over Mother Nature so they never know if it’s going to be a great tomato year or a great lettuce year or maybe even a bad year. You, as the consumer, get whatever did well that week. Every week, or bi-weekly, you pick up, or some deliver, your share of produce. Some CSA’s let you decide which items are included and some choose for you but either way it is an assortment of items. A select few CSA’s even include meat, dairy, and eggs like my friends Mike and Judy at Country Gardens.
Farms offer different packages depending on growing conditions and harvests. Some are year round and others are seasonal. One of our local farms that my friend Ashley Rodgers (read about her here) manages, Serenbe Farms, is opening up their Fall CSA now. If you need to find a CSA near you Local Harvest can help find one!
What are the benefits…
for the Consumer…
Relationship – Knowing where your food comes from is very empowering! Meeting your farmer who grows it and developing a friendship that last a lifetime is priceless.
Fresh Food – Most CSA items are picked the morning you receive them! You will notice a difference in flavor when your food is that fresh!
Try New Things – Some items in your share are going to be new to you. You will have an opportunity to cook new recipes and discover new favorite veggies! Maybe even some turmeric or ginger from our friends Scott and Nicole at 180 Degree Farm.
for the Farmer…
Relationship – A farmer spends 90% of their time in the fields growing food and not a whole lot of socializing. The CSA pick up or delivery is a chance for them to get to know their customers and to talk to a human instead of plants.
Seed Money – Farmers make most of their money during growing and harvesting when their sales are highest. Very little is left after the slow winter months and this is when they need to make their biggest purchases. Having money at the beginning allows them to purchase the seeds they need to grow.
Time Management – Farmers work very long hours in the fields so spending time advertising or marketing is the bottom of the list. CSA allows them to focus that marketing time.
for your Community and beyond…
Economic – Keeping money local always helps your local economy. It is also a good thing to support small business and family farms, they need your money much more than Big Ag or grocery chains.
Environment – Keeping our carbon footprint as small as possible makes a difference. Eating and shopping local is reducing the amount of fuel being wasted shipping vegetables all over. Supporting local farmers is supporting the environment.
So whats stopping you! Sign up now for a local farm CSA share! Help your community, the environment, a farmer and yourself! Do you already belong to a CSA? If so, tell us what you love about it!