What is a CSA?
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community’s farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production. Members or shareholders of the farm or garden pledge in advance to cover the anticipated costs of the farm operation and farmer’s salary. In return, they receive shares in the farm’s bounty throughout the growing season, as well as satisfaction gained from reconnecting to the land. Members also share in risks, including poor harvest due to unfavorable weather or pests.*
Did you know…?
CSA started in Japan in 1965. Housewives concerned with pesticides and overly processed foods made arrangements with local farmers to have access to purchase their crops directly.
What is Sustainable Agriculture?
Sustainable agriculture is one that produces abundant food without depleting the earth’s resources or polluting its environment.
Theory behind CSAs
Participation in a CSA offers consumers and producers certain personal, economic, ecological, and community benefits.
Benefits to the Consumer:
- Access to high quality, fresh food — health benefits are well documented: food from a known source is safer, assurance of good farm practices
- Support sustainable agriculture
- Support genetic diversity — produce sold fresh and local does not have to be bred for storage and shipping characteristics, can be bred for flavor and nutrition
- Assurance of no genetically modified crops
- Assurance of organic growing methods — supports long term health of soils, farm systems, and ecosystems that sustain our lives
- Consumer is able to build a relationship with farm and farmer
- Connection and access to local food supply is a basic human right
Food dollars stay local and thereby strengthens the local economy, which is beneficial for several reasons:
- Fosters independence and self-determination
- Promotes community cohesion and common vision
- Makes community more immune to crises, less affected by economic swings
- Local food is not shipped long distances — enormous savings on fuel cost and environmental impact of shipping
Benefits to the Farmer
- Crops can be pre-sold — Helps in making economic and field plans for the year
- No middle man, farmers get better than wholesale price for crops
- Connection to community
- Provides a model that enables small farms to compete in a market dominated by industrial agriculture
* Definition courtesy of the USDA