If you have ever looked into buying produce from organic farmers in your area, you have probably seen the acronym CSA thrown around on their website and on social media.
The acronym CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Rolls right off the tongue, eh?
In short, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a great program to help bring farmers and community members together.
What Is a CSA and How Does It Work?
Community Supported Agriculture is a direct exchange between producers and consumers.
The consumer buys a share in the farm’s production at the beginning of the season, essentially partnering with the farmer and becoming members of the farm.
In exchange, the farm commits to providing quality produce, freshly harvested the previous day or even the same day of delivery or pick-up.
The farmer prepares the produce, either washed or not, into individual crates or bins.
The size of the food share depends on what options the farm is offering.
Some farms offer one size of food box only, while others offer small, medium, and large shares, depending on how many people it is feeding.
What Is a CSA Subscription?
Members typically pay upfront for a season’s worth of vegetables so that they are sharing the risks and rewards of the farm.
Every week for a predetermined amount of weeks (typically around 18-20 weeks), each member receives a basket of seasonal veggies from the farm.
These baskets may be delivered to your house or a set pick-up time and place may be established for ease of delivery.
Generally, baskets vary each week so that consumers do not get bored with their veggies.
A typical box may have around 8-12 items on any given week of the share. Including:
- Variety of greens
- Root veggies
- Fruit veggies (tomatoes, cucumbers)
For example, a share box may contain lettuce, turnips, beets, cucumber, summer squash, green onions, broccoli, mustard greens, bok choy, and dill.
Of course, what is included in your box is going to depend on what your farmer grows, and what part of the season it is (early or late) but this gives you an idea of the items you might receive.
What Are The Benefits Of The CSA?
Community Supported Agriculture is important because it connects farmers to consumers directly. It is beneficial to both the consumer and the farmer.
- Direct access to fresh, quality veg each week
- Relationship with farmer
- Know where their veggies are coming from
- Exposed to a wide variety of veg that may not have tried otherwise
- Aids in crop planning
- Source of guaranteed income
- Helps establish a relationship with the community
How Do I Find My Local CSA?
There are a few ways to effectively choose a CSA.
The Farmer’s Market is a great resource for finding market farmers. However, CSA’s typically start at around the same time as the Farmer’s Market, so you will most likely need to sign up beforehand.
If you know the names of the market farmers near you, simply google them and see if they offer a CSA program.
Alternatively, you can google “market farmers near me” and check out each website/Facebook page to see which farmers offer a CSA.
As well, you may know someone who is already a member of a CSA, you could ask them who they are partners with and how their experience has been so far with that farm.
When I lived in Toronto and wanted a veggie delivery service, I simply googled “CSA Toronto” and picked one that was close to me and had good reviews.
Having a direct relationship with the person who grows the food you eat is invaluable in this day in age.
I hope you will consider joining a CSA program in your area so you can have weekly access to quality, fresh veg and support local growers at the same time.
What is your experience with CSA? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.
Kathy & Jon
Your Friendly neighbourhood growers