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What's a CSA?

Community Supported Agriculture...... Defined

Community Supported Agriculture refers to a relationship based approach to growing, selling, and distributing produce and other locally produced foods.  While industrial food production systems are efficient at the point of production, they give away most of this efficiency, as well as taste, freshness, and nutritional value, by shipping produce thousands of miles, and ultimately by throwing most of it away because it goes bad before being sold at grocery stores.  Food delivered in this industrialized system is relatively inexpensive because the two main players, farmers and the environment, are not sufficiently valued and compensated. The waste inherent in this system is roughly equal to the extent to which farmers and the environment are compromised and undervalued.  As a result, the conventional system is not sustainable.

Over the last two decades or so, CSAs have become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farm.  A more familiar way to think of a CSA might be as an investment.  In short, a farm offers a certain number of "shares" to the public in exchange for an upfront payment, and the farm pays the shareholder "dividends" during the growing season in the form of a weekly box of vegetables.  Shares of a CSA are also referred to as a membership.

This arrangement creates several rewards for both the farmer and the consumer.

Farmers:

  • Have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow or produce.
  • Get to spend time marketing food early in the year, before their long days in the field begin.
  • Recieve payment early in the season to have funds to buy seed and other products necessary to produce food.

Consumers:

  • Eat super-fresh food, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits.
  • Get to connect to a farm.
  • May try new vegetables and new ways of cooking.
  • Find that children typically favor farm food from "their" farm...even veggies theyve never been known to eat.
  • Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown.

 

(adapted from localharvest.org) 

 

 

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