Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a relatively new model of food production, sales, and distribution aimed at both increasing the quality of food and the quality of care given the land and crops, while substantially reducing potential food losses and financial risks for the producers. It is also a method for small-scale commercial farmers to have a successful, small-scale, closed market. The majority of CSAs focus on a system of weekly delivery or pick-up sites of fruits and vegetables.
Typically, CSA farms are small, independent, labor-intensive, family farms. CSA subscription memberships provide a guaranteed market through prepaid sales. This allows farmers to not only focus on quality growing, it can also somewhat level the playing field in a food market that usually favors large-scale, industrialized agriculture over local food. One important benefit is keeping local agriculture sustainable and farm families on the land by allowing them to earn a living wage for their hard work. Vegetables and fruit are the most common CSA crops.
Community Supported Agriculture is a sensible local solution to the many questions raised by the current system of industrial food production and distribution. We are all aware of the disturbing trend of the loss of the American farm and the American farmer, and the great distance food is typically shipped before it’s consumed. Americans are ever increasingly eating “old food.” CSAs help to reverse those unsustainable trends by keeping farms near the communities they serve while greatly reducing the time it takes from harvest to table. An advantage of the close consumer-producer relationship is increased freshness of the produce, because it does not have to be shipped long distances. The close proximity of the farm to the members also helps the environment by reducing the carbon footprint caused by transporting the produce. The local economy benefits by keeping the food dollars within the local community.
Seasonal eating is implied, as shares are usually based on the outdoor growing season, which means a smaller selection at the beginning and perhaps the end of the period, as well as a changing variety as the season progresses.
View the links to the right to learn more about the program and how it works.