CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is a socio-economic model of food production and distribution consisting of a community of individuals and households supporting each other. You can make a pledge to support local farm operation by buying a “share” of produce from the farm – fruit, vegetables, and also options for eggs, dairy, meat, and lots of other fresh products delivered to you on a weekly basis throughout the season.
Why are CSA’s Important?
Running a sustainable farm takes a tremendous amount of effort, skill, and capital. Farmers generally operate on extremely low margins, facing any number of threats and risks of crop failures: pests, disease, extreme weather, adverse growing conditions, etc. In addition to the environmental challenges, there is another problem which is that the farmer is taking a risk producing a perishable product. If the parties wait until the produce is grown and harvested to negotiate a sale, then it is always a “buyer’s market” because the farmer *needs to sell* the perishable produce while it is fresh. That’s a tough position to be in and that’s why buying direct from a farm is different than buying from any other veggie box scheme. The CSA model is an innovative way to help solve some of the challenges local farmers face, giving a farmer more economic security, ensuring that the purchase transaction is fair, and allowing the farmer to focus on other things that matter like soil and plant health, ecological stewardship, and the “real quality” of the food.
Typically a CSA share is paid for in full before the start of the season to give the farmer the operating capital she needs to get the growing cycle started. Upfront payment by CSA members is an alternative to a farmer having to take out an operating loan every year, and relieves a huge stress of paying back interest to a bank. Most farms are very flexible about this and offer payment plans for folks who cannot afford to pay in full upfront.
We are working to build a regional foodsystem that values the health and resilience of the land, the people, and the community; one that builds and protects the vibrance of our biological, social, and cultural eco-systems. Start forming that profound connection with the source of your food and realise how your food choices influence the natural and social landscape.
How Do I choose? Which Farm is right for me?
Some folks might like to just dive right in and try one, others might prefer to research a farm in-depth before signing up. Choose the path that’s right for you. If you’re new to CSAs, you might experience a change in your cooking and eating habits. It’s not always easy to keep up with the veggies but there are lots of resources and recipes out there to help you. Engaging a good friend to cook with you can make the process even more enriching. We can also pick up your food scraps so you don’t have to feel bad about veggies that don’t make it into the pot. The farms we work with are aligned with our values and are each working to build resilient communities in theri own ways. All farms have their highlights and quirks, and that’s one of the reasons to love them all! We are not aiming to deliver a monoculture experience.
Committing to a farm helps you gain an understanding about what it takes to produce the food you need – it makes YOU part of the growing process, and there is no substitute for that connection.