Community Supported Agriculture or CSA is a partnership between a farm and a community of supporters linking the production of fresh food with consumers. Customers or members purchase a “share” of the season’s harvest in advance helping the farmer cover his operating expenses. CSA’s have been around for more than 25 years and have become a popular way for families to buy seasonal fruits and vegetables directly from a local farmer.
A CSA begins when a farmer offers a certain number of “shares” of his crop to the public for purchase. Typically the share consists of a weekly box of fruits and vegetables, but may also include other farm products. Customers purchase a share or membership and receive a box of fresh produce each week throughout the growing season. This pre-selling of the farmers harvest helps him plan and pay for his crops.
Community Supported Agriculture, CSA, Member Benefits
- Enjoy locally grown fresh, seasonal produce
- Experience new vegetables and new ways to use them
- Encourage healthy eating habits with vitamin rich produce
- Expose kids to where our food comes from with a farm visit
- Support local farmers and strengthen local economy
What’s in the Farmer’s Box?
This is going to depend on what part of the country you live, what type of produce your farm grows and what options you have when signing up. The farm may pack a standard box for everyone or allow you to “mix and match” selecting vegetables you like. Some farms may operate more like a farmers market where they display the week’s harvest and you load your box with the fruits and vegetables you want. CSA members may have a choice of other types of farm items such as eggs, homemade bread, meat, cheese, flowers and other homemade items. Each CSA program is unique to the farm and the products they have to offer.
CSA Agreement between Farmer and Consumer
In advance of the crops harvest the CSA member signs up and pays for an agreed upon box of produce. There is some shared risk in this transaction in which the CSA member pays in advance for the whole season and the farmers do their best to provide an abundant box of produce each week. The farmer may experience some issues with certain vegetables and not harvest enough to fulfill the CSA needs. Other weeks there may be a bounty of too much of one item. As a CSA member you will share this cycle with your farmer.
Buy Local Produce – Sign Up for a CSA
The best way to describe a CSA is to highlight a farm in my area. I will introduce you to Moder’s Garden in Green Bay, Wisconsin. They offer a Farm Box Delivery Program that will get all the fresh produce delivered right to your door at home or work every week. You can select from three box sizes depending on how many people in your family and you have the option of a box delivered weekly or bi-weekly. The Moder’s Farm Promise is to bring you the freshest produce available. They spend many hours harvesting the best produce to bring to your doorstep and believe in farm to table the way food should be.
Many local farms offer a CSA Program and signup is happening now in preparation for the upcoming growing season. The U-Pick Farm Locator is a good place to start to find farms in your area that may offer a CSA program. Fresh from the field produce tastes better than produce packed and trucked across the country. Joining a Farm CSA will get your family to eat more healthy fruits and vegetables while supporting your local farmers. You may be surprised at the farms near you offering a CSA program.