What is CSA? How does it work? Will it work for you?
If you’re a conscientious consumer, careful about procuring and preparing the freshest most healthful produce you can possibly find, you certainly will want to consider all the benefits of CSA.
First of all, what is CSA? Community Supported Agriculture is a marketing concept in which consumers invest in a local farm that grows and distributes fresh vegetables, fruits, and other home-made or home-grown items directly to the consumer.
How does it work? The farmer, or producer, sells shares of the anticipated harvest of vegetables that will be grown and picked throughout the upcoming growing season. In general, the shares are sold for a lump sum fixed rate before the crop begins to ripen. The selling price covers the weekly delivery of a box of assorted freshly grown and recently picked vegetables throughout the duration of the growing season, straight from the farmer to the consumer.
One of the big advantages to the farmer is the fact that he gets money upfront to invest in the seeds, plants, equipment, and supplies necessary to produce his upcoming crop. With much of the marketing out of the way early in the year, the grower can then devote more time and energy to the actual planting, tending, and harvesting of the produce.
The big advantage to the consumer is that he or she is guaranteed a weekly delivery of an assortment of locally grown and recently harvested vegetables all during the growing season. No need to worry about how or where the food was grown or how much time it has spent in shipment before it got to the consumer’s table.
Often, the farmers will encourage, or at least allow, their subscription-owning consumers to visit their farm to observe and learn about their growing methods. This can be a great learning opportunity for children and adults.
And, in the current world where we have increasing concerns about the safety of the foods we eat (particularly in terms of the questionable chemical fertilizers and pesticides often used in their production), this person-to-person relationship between grower and consumer can do much to alleviate our fears.
Some producers also offer items to their subscribers other than just the expected array of vegetables. These might include freshly baked food items such as breads, cookies or cakes, or other items like eggs right from the hens’ nests, or freshly cut flowers from the farmer’s flower garden.
Additionally, some flexibility about the contents of the vegetable box might be negotiable between the farmer and the consumer—maybe you really don’t want the onions, but would love to have some extra carrots, for example.
You get the idea. The farmer has an established market for his crop, and you—the consumer—have a reliable source of fresh local produce.
It’s like the farmer’s market coming to you!
To learn more about CSA and to locate a participating farmer near you, visit
the website: localharvest.org