Support Local Farms, Get Ultra-Fresh Food with CSAs
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) allows the public to support and invest in local agriculture, while enjoying fresh produce from nearby farms throughout the growing season.
Typically, farmers will sell a full (enough to feed about four people) or half share (enough to feed two) that is paid for in advance. As the spring becomes summer and then fall, the weekly basket of produce will change with different fruits and vegetables maturing and ready for picking.
In the traditional CSA model, the consumer effectively agrees to share the risk and rewards with the farmer. There may be a bounty of some vegetables while others produce a spare crop. The weekly distribution is entirely dependent on the variables that always define farming: weather, pests and the unknown.
If a late freeze damages the peach crop, everyone is disappointed together. If it’s a bountiful year for broccoli and peppers, all share in the riches.
This partnership between consumers and farmers is a fairly recent development.
"CSA as we know it began in the early 1960's in Germany, Switzerland, and Japan as a response to concerns about food safety and the urbanization of agricultural land," writes the FairShare CSA Coalition. The first CSAs in United States came in 1986.
What began as a concept of "knowing your farms," now finds more than 12,500 CSAs at local farms throughout the United States.
For the consumer, the advantage is ultra-fresh food and exposure to vegetables they might never think to try. For the farmer, much of their marketing is done before the heavy workload of the season begins.
CSAs aren't always confined to produce. Some farmers include the option to buy shares of eggs, homemade bread, meat, cheese, flowers or other farm products.
Greenbelt is grateful to several professional and staff photographers whose work is featured prominently within our website.
Thank you Jerry Monkman / ecophotography.com, Lynne Holton, Kindra Clineff, Adrian Scholes and John Raleigh.