CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, is a great way to get fresh produce, eat seasonally, and limit your carbon footprint. I think I have a farmer in my soul, but I lack the space, time, and knowledge to delve too deeply into growing my own food and raising chickens for fresh eggs. And that is why I love my CSA.
How Does Community Supported Agriculture Work?
Community Supported Agriculture starts with a farm. The farm offers shares in the produce to members. Each member pays a yearly fee and receives a share of what the farm grows on a regular basis, usually weekly. Some CSAs send boxes of produce to each member, while others require pick-up at the farm.
This is a win-win for farmers and members. The farmers know in advance that they will be able to sell what they produce. They get payment up front, aiding cash flow. They don’t have to market their wares or attend farmers’ markets during the growing season, when they need to spend long days in the field.
CSA Member Benefits
What members get out of belonging to a Community Supported Agriculture program may be even greater. There are many reasons I love my CSA and will continue to support it:
- I get fresh, high-quality produce on a regular basis from the end of May through November.
- The end of fall means I get storage vegetables to last through the winter, like pumpkins and butternut squash.
- I know where my produce comes from, how it grows, and that it’s organic.
- I get to know and learn from the people who grow my food. They even do one or two tours of the farm per year, so members can really see farming in action.
- The chance to try new produce has been a joy. I had my first tomatillos, salad turnips, and several different varieties of tomatoes through the CSA.
- I love knowing that my produce is local and sustainable.
- Every week is a surprise, and I have learned to eat seasonally.
- My support, in turn, supports young farmers in training.
My CSA is through Michigan State University’s extension program, a local, suburban farm that is also an education center. You can also find CSAs through private farms and community and urban gardens. As these programs become more popular, it’s easier than ever to find one, no matter where you live. I highly recommend that you do; you won’t regret it.