What is community supported agriculture? CSA or Community Supported Agriculture a system in which a farm operation is supported by shareholders within the community who share both the benefits and risks of food production. In this program, a community of individuals pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes the community’s farm (sometimes legally, other spiritually) with growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing risks for the benefit of more localized food production. It’s a core part of a food revolution sweeping our country. It involves access to higher quality, fresher produce at lower prices. It’s a way to eat better and help your local farmers too.
It’s time for you to consider joining a CSA.
Why CSAs Matter
Many small and medium-sized farms offer a CSA program directly to consumers. This service has become invaluable to many families during this time of quarantine. First, you register in advance of the growing season so the farmers know how much of each crop to cultivate. Then, when harvest season comes around, you can pick up your CSA delivery and enjoy your local vegetables.
Another way to think of it is like the stock market. Purchasing a CSA is like buying a small “share” in a local farm. It means you are a member of sorts, and you are now entitled to some of the goods that it produces.
YouTuber Kara Lydon has created an entire series exploring the produce she received in her weekly CSA box. Each episode focuses on the health benefits of each offering and how she uses them to cook in her kitchen.
What’s in My CSA Box
How To Find a CSA Near You
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has created a huge and searchable CSA Directory that lists local farms, networks, and associations of multiple farms that supply regular (generally weekly) deliveries of locally-grown farm products. Subscription offerings vary by season and location, of course, but you can search your area and find a CSA quickly. You can filter results by zip code, narrowing and expanding the distance until you find an acceptable travel range.
Joining a CSA means that you have the opportunity to build a relationship with a local farmer. You can probably even visit the farm to see where your food is being grown. One thing to know is that you can’t always predict what items will be in your CSA box. Sometimes, it’s more food than you can eat in a single week. This is a great opportunity to learn some simple food preservation techniques.
You can start with this special “Just Picked” video, showing how to preserve your CSA harvest all winter long.
Just Picked, Episode 14: Preserving the Harvest
Reconnect with Your Food
These transformational times provide an opportunity to connect with local food sources, understand where our food comes from and discover the best practices for raising our food. There has never been a better time to reconnect with your local farmers and support local agriculture.
Barbara Kingsolver authored a seminal book on the current need people feel to reconnect with the land, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life.
For modern kids who intuitively believe in the spontaneous generation of fruits and vegetables in the produce section, trying to get their minds around the slow speciation of the plant kingdom may be a stretch.”BARBARA KINGSOLVER
One of the community farms inspired by Kingsolver’s book was the Roots and Refuge Farm in Arkansas. On the farm’s YouTube channel, the family discussed how that book taught them the importance of locally sourced food and growing things yourself. Kingsolver explains in the video below how receiving food straight from the Earth changes your perspective.
“If you get something prepared in a package all of those ingredients had to go through the process of being prepared and packaged. That’s more packaging and more gas miles, and then that is sent to a store where you go purchase it. So we really cut back on our footprint majorly when we make things at home.”BARBARA KINGSOLVER
One of the community farms inspired by Kingsolver’s book was the Roots and Refuge Farm in Arkansas. On the farm’s YouTube channel, the family discussed how that book taught them the importance of locally sourced food and growing things yourself.
In a video, she explains how receiving food straight from the Earth changes your perspective.
Modern Farmer journalist Gloria Dawson reminds us that the idea is nothing new. CSAs have operated around the country for many years. She writes:
“Ask a locavore what’s the best way to get their food direct from a farmer, and chances are they’ll offer up the idea of CSAs. The boxes filled with farm-fresh food, either picked up or delivered straight to your door, have become increasingly popular across the US in the past ten years, but the model itself is decades old.”
In fact, the Food Network created a documentary nearly 15 years ago, showing the world how community support agriculture worked — one of the most influential videos created before our current boom in CSAs. Hopefully after reading this you can answer the question: “what is community supported agriculture?”