5 Reasons You Should Join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Group
We all desire to eat food as fresh as possible. For many consumers, joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group has proven to be a lifesaver.
Community supported agriculture consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production. CSA allows city residents to have direct access to high quality, fresh produce grown locally by regional farmers.
Typically, members or share holders pledge in advance to cover the anticipated costs of the farm operation and farmer’s salary. In return, they receive shares in the farm’s bounty throughout the growing season. Not to mention the satisfaction gained from reconnecting to the land and participating directly in food production.
In other words, when you become a member of a CSA, you’re purchasing a “share” of bounty from a regional farmer. Weekly or bi-weekly, during the growing season, your farmer will deliver your share of produce to a convenient drop-off location in your neighborhood.
Share holders pay for an entire season of produce up front. This typically runs $400-$600 per season. The early bulk payment enables your farmer to plan for the season, purchase new seed, make equipment repairs, and more. But many CSAs have a variety of payment plans to enable members flexibility in paying for their shares, such as allowing payments in installments, accepting food stamps, and offering sliding scale fees. Most CSAs offer half shares for smaller households.
Shares typically include a variety of 7-10 different types of vegetables – enough for a family of 2-3 people. And many CSAs will also offer the option of other produce from local farms. For a few extra dollars a week, some CSAs add fruit, eggs, meat, and even flowers to your order.
Share holders do share in the risks of farming, including poor harvests due to unfavorable weather or pests. In turn for taking risk, local farmers receive better prices for their crops, gain some financial security, and are relieved of much of the burden of marketing.
Here are five of the many benefits you’ll get when you join a CSA:
Supports Your Local Farmers: Unlike buying from a grocery store, CSAs allow you to give money directly to the farmers that grow your fruits and vegetables. Your support helps small local farms stay afloat. And you connect with the food you eat by meeting your farmers and exploring the farms.
Fresh Seasonal Eats: Because all produce you get from a CSA are locally-grown, everything is picked when ripe, and not frozen and trucked across country before getting to you. That means tomatoes in the spring and summer and squash and apples in the fall – at the peak of their ripeness.
Healthier Foods: If you choose to join an organic CSA, you’ll have access to food that’s free of pesticides or grown in a certified organic environment. Plus, as a thank you, many farmers will include new and different crops at times to see how well people like them and how well they grow.
Gets You Outside: If you like getting out in the sun and getting some activity for a day or so per month, many CSAs will offer discounted memberships if you come and work the field.
Protects the Environment: You’ll be supporting local farmers who take care of their land by growing food in ways that take care of the soil. In addition, CSAs cut down on the number of miles your food travels from the farm to your plate.
The VegTip team is proud to be a part of a similar model to the CSA, which is a web-based, local farm direct-to-consumer food hub coming soon. Please stay tuned atjoin.farmlocals.com for more information.