What is a CSA?
Excerpt from Local Harvest
Thinking about signing up for a CSA but want to learn more about the idea before you commit? Read on.
For over 25 years, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer.
Here are the basics: a farmer offers a certain number of "shares" to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a "membership" or a "subscription") and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.
This arrangement creates several rewards for both the farmer and the consumer. In brief:
Advantages for farmers:
Get to spend time marketing the food early in the year, before their 16 hour days in the field begin
Receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm's cash flow
Have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow
Advantages for consumers:
Eat ultra-fresh food, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits
Get exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cooking
Usually get to visit the farm at least once a season
Find that kids typically favor food from "their" farm â€“ even veggies they've never been known to eat
Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown
It's a simple enough idea, but its impact has been profound. Tens of thousands of families have joined CSAs, and in some areas of the country there is more demand than there are CSA farms to fill it.
Shared Risk and Sense of Community:
There is an important concept woven into the CSA model that takes the arrangement beyond the usual commercial transaction. That is the notion of shared risk: in most CSAs, members pay up front for the whole season and the farmers do their best to provide an abundant box of produce each week. If things are slim, members are not typically reimbursed. The result is a feeling of "we're in this together". On some farms the idea of shared risk is stronger than others, and CSA members may be asked to sign a policy form indicating that they agree to accept without complaint whatever the farm can produce.
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.
The advantages of a CSA
A mutually beneficial idea that helps farmers to continue farming, while providing the freshest highest quality produce and farm foods to members of the community.
While inclement weather, storms, hail, and drought may alter the nature of the share, Wild Apple Farms then supplements weekly shares with vegetables from the local area, thereby continuing to support local agriculture while providing our fresh food.