CSAs are a simple idea with a profound impact! Here’s why…
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a mutually beneficial relationship directly between consumers and farmers based on an alternative socio-economic model of agriculture and food distribution.
Before the growing season starts, consumers make a commitment to a farm by purchasing a “share” of the farm, which pays for a portion of the farm’s expenses. Ideally CSA payments provide capitol investment upfront of the growing season when the farm needs it most to cover the costs of seeds, equipment, etc., but some farms also accept payment in installments throughout the growing season.
In return for purchasing a “share” of the farm, consumers receive a “share” of the harvest that usually includes a wide variety and abundance of produce available on a weekly basis throughout the farms growing season. Although quantity and variety will vary based on weather and other factors that influence agricultural productivity, consumers can rest assured that 100% of their food dollar is going to their farm to produce the highest quality food for them (as opposed to middlemen and the cost of transporting and storing food coming from hundreds and thousands of miles away).
When people commit to joining a CSA, they have the opportunity to enjoy seasonal eating and a close connection to their food source, while helping local sustainable agriculture flourish. This commitment implies a willingness to share with the farmer the bounty of the land, as well as some of the risks and pleasures of production.
Many times, the idea of shared risk is part of what creates a sense of community among members, and between members and the farmers. If a hailstorm takes out all the peppers, everyone is disappointed together, and together cheer on the winter squash and broccoli. Most CSA farmers feel a great sense of responsibility to their members, and when certain crops are scarce, they make sure the CSA gets served first.