Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a whole new concept for me. It’s a great way to get fresh, locally grown produce on a weekly basis.
What is Community Supported Agriculture?
Some farms allow members of the community to purchase shares of produce. Shares are paid for in advance of the harvesting season and a share entitles the member to weekly packages/boxes of produce. The money for the shares helps the farmers to fund the cost of running the farm. At some farms the members pick their own produce; others provide pre-boxed shares of produce while other farms practice a combination of both. Pickups are scheduled weekly. Some farms have one day and time for pickup and others have several different pickup days/times.
Are CSAs Expensive?
The cost for membership varies from farm to farm. In my area, I’ve found them to cost anywhere from $300 to $950 for the season (seasons in my neck of the woods run from June to December). The $300 price was low because it required the member to put in at least 10 hours per month of service whether it’s working at the farm, fundraising or working at the farmer’s market. The highest priced farm in my area was for an organic farm that grows fruits, vegetables and raises free-range poultry, beef and pork. When you stop to think about getting organic freshly grown produce for 7 months of the year, $950 is a bargain.
The Local Harvest website is a nice place to start to locate CSAs in your area. If you can’t find anything there, chat with your local farmer. They might have a CSA program that has yet to be listed. Unfortunately, I’ve discovered the world of community supported agriculture late in the harvesting season. Therefore, I was unable to join a CSA this year, but you can bet I’ll join one next year. In the meanwhile, I purchase produce from my local farms and attend farmer’s markets.