What is a CSA?
Over the last decade, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal produce directly from a farmer. The farmer offers a certain number of ‘shares’ to the public; each share consists of a portion of what is harvested. Consumers who purchase a share (membership) receive a weekly bag/box/basket of seasonal produce each week during the growing season.
Advantages for consumers:
- Obtain vegetables at their freshest – greatest flavor and vitamin benefits
- Get exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cooking
- Get to visit the farm and have an experience far different than going ‘grocery shopping’.
- Find that family members/kids often are more willing to eat ‘veggies’ direct from the farm they visit, even varieties they have turned down before
- Learn more about how food is grown.
Advantages for farmers:
- Receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm's cash flow
- Solicit and incorporate feedback from their members to determine what varieties of vegetables are desired for the growing season
- Have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow
There is an important concept woven into the CSA model that takes the arrangement beyond the usual commercial transaction. Implicit in the CSA concept is the idea that members share with the farmer the risk that some crops might do poorly due to bad weather, pest problems, etc. However, with the variety of crops included in a CSA, it is expected that even if some don’t do well, others will flourish and there will be plenty of food overall. Members pay the same whether it turns out to be a fantastic growing season or a lean one.
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