Over the last decade, “community supported agriculture” has become a way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from farmers, while providing the latter a much-needed source of revenue at the beginning of a growing season. Consumers purchase a “share” of a farmer’s crop early in the spring, and then receive a collection of fresh produce and other products throughout the growing season. This mutually beneficial arrangement is good for both the farmer and the consumer. We have an abundance of CSAs in our region – click here for the CSAs closest to you.
Advantages for the Farmer
- Payment up front, early in the season, helps with the farm’s cash flow
- Farmers build relationships with the people whose food they grow
- Able to spend time on marketing their food early in the season, so they can focus on farming during the growing season
Advantages for the Consumer
- Regular access to fresh and healthy seasonal produce
- Encourages experimentation with new foods and recipes
- Allows consumer to develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food, and to better understand where that food comes from and how it’s grown
Is a CSA Right for You?
By becoming a member of a CSA you are doing more than just buying farm fresh products. You are buying into a share of a farm’s seasonal bounty and joining a community of others who share a desire to support and celebrate local, seasonal food. You are also accepting some of the risks associated with farming – including crop losses due to weather damage or other such unforeseen circumstances that can affect the types and amount of produce that you receive during the season.
One of the joys of CSA membership is access to the freshest, most delicious produce at the height of its seasonal availability. If you are not accustomed to following a diet that is seasonally dependant (something our modern-day supermarkets don’t require us to do), then you may want to do some research into what is grown in your geographic area and when various items are in season. Part of the fun of a CSA is being introduced to new products. Who knows, your new favorite food may be just a CSA delivery away!
Questions To Ask Your Farmer
As CSAs have experienced increasing popularity, there have been variations on the basic model. Each farm and farmer who offers a CSA sets their own set of specifications for subscribers. The best way to find out whether a particular farm makes sense for you is to talk directly with the farmer.
Some questions you might want to ask are:
- How long have you been farming in this area?
- How long have you offered a CSA?
- How big is your CSA? How many members?
- How successful was your last season?
- Are all of the items presented in your shares from your farm? If not, which other farms contribute to your CSA?
- What types of products are included?
- When is each delivery made or when do I pick up?
- What happens if I miss a delivery?
- Could I have the contact information for a couple of your former/current members as a reference?