Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
Community Supported Agriculture - One Size Does Not Fit All - Think Global, Act Local
- appreciate locally-grown food and the hard-working farmers who raise edible crops from seeds
- want exposure to the farmers and land that grow your food
- want you and your family to try new foods
then being a member of a CSA may be just the thing for you.
Community Supported Agriculture started in Japan in the 1960s and slowly worked its way to the United States in the mid-80s. It was a slow start , but after really kicking off in 1991 in New York, there are now groups all across America. (http://www.justfood.org/csa/history)
Each week during the harvest season, members receive a box (or basket or bag) of the crop, eggs, flowers or other. Some farmers include homemade bread and soup made from the harvest. No CSA is going to be exactly like the one on the next farm. Many people enjoy the surprise of the box. Others join a CSA that the members play a role in the decision-making process of the crops to be grown. There are many choices so explore the CSAs in your area before making a decision.
The members pay up front and share in the risk. "Why would I do that," you might ask. I am going to tell you.
- get to meet the farmers that are growing their food! How neat is that! Some farmers even have a yearly picnic on the farm for all the members.
- develop a great appreciation for the farmers' hard work - if you do not understand what small farmers do, please locate a farm in your area that wants to educate people! In our area, Oxbow Farms, offers education and field trips.
- receive fresh, local food. Some are organic, but even if not "USDA organic certified," many others follow the guidelines for organic farming.
- try new foods because that is what is in the basket! You and your family will learn to cook and eat based on what is in the basket. Just that alone could open you to a whole new world. I am not talking about never getting a food you have heard of... I am talking about getting some turnips one time and learning to make a stew with turnips and discovering you actually like those purple things you have always passed by in the grocery store!
- become invested in their community. You share the risk... you care about what is going on with the land in your area. Why should farmers bear the whole load when a flood comes or an insect infestation takes out a crop? They suffer much more than us not getting a basket or two of produce.
- benefit from doing their marketing up front before the hard-working season begins
- get to meet the people who buy and enjoy the fruits of their hard work
- can plan to a certain extent how much they need to plant in order to meet the needs of the CSA... because it is a up-front commitment!
- receive the money up front for their cash flow
Some farmers deliver, others have a drop-off location. Again, CSAs are different so you need to ask.
Small to mid-size, local farms are important. Be a part of that. Embrace that tradition. Supporting a local farmer becomes a symbiotic relationship... where would we be if all we had to choose from was the mass-produced, genetically-altered, subsidized food that is in the box supermarkets of today? I don't want to go there, do you?