Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a program that connects citizens with local farmers.
Unlike a farmer’s market, where you simply purchase local produce, CSA enables you to buy a “share” from local producers.
Shares usually consist of a portion of the season’s produce. In this scenario members receive a weekly shipment of fresh, local produce to their front doors. The produce arrives, minimally packaged, in a reusable container. Often, this means a wooden or cardboard box, though bags and baskets are also used.
Each package is filled with a vibrant assortment of fruits and vegetables, with enough to provide two adults and two children with a delicious and adequate source of plant nutrients for a week.
Depending on the farmer, other services or items may also be offered. This can include flowers, honey, eggs, cheese, or even homemade bread and other baked goods. They may also choose to send packages filled with only a certain crop at a time, like a basket full of apples.
Fees for a share may vary as well.
Implementing a form of interest-free loans, local customers pay an agreed-upon fee to farmers, in advance to the growing season.
In addition to a share of the season’s production, however, comes a shared risk – you can never fully know how fruitful a season may turn out or whether the summer’s crops will be plighted by drought, and so on. But this is the case with any farm. And because of the shared interest, any success will be communal, as will the joy that comes with it. Additional benefits of membership may include seasonal visits to “your” farm, as well as getting to spend time with the farmer who runs it.
Because they are not tracked by the government, it is not known precisely how many CSAs exist in the United States.
To find a CSA office near you, visit Local Harvest.
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