What Is Community Supported Agriculture?

Community Farmer with Basket of Fresh Produce

At the grocery store, you grimace when your kids attempt to pack your shopping cart with sugar, sodium, fat, and calorie laden foods. You long for opportunities to teach them how to eat healthier. But, the produce section of your local supermarket leaves a lot to be desired. The sparse section of fruits and vegetables available doesn’t inspire your children to change their eating habits. If you can relate to this common, albeit sad, situation, your family might benefit from participating in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).

The concept of a CSA is quite simple. Local farmers sell shares of future crops to the residents of a community. When you purchase a share, you receive a box, bag, or basket of fresh produce each week during the upcoming faming season. Often, the produce consist of vegetables. However CSAs have expanded since their inception more than 25 years ago. Nowadays, in addition to vegetables, some farmers also give shareholders the opportunity to buy shares of:

  • Meat
  • Eggs
  • Homemade breads
  • Honey
  • Fruit
  • Flowers

Increasingly, farmers are allowing members to fill their own boxes with more than one type of food each week. With this type of setup, farmers display baskets of different types of produce harvested during the week. The shareholders choose the types of vegetables and other items they want to fill their weekly box with. This type of CSA is referred to as "market-style".

CSAs not only benefit local farmers but are very rewarding for the shareholders. Farmers get the opportunity to market their produce before harvesting time arrives. They also receive much needed operating capital from payments for future crops. As a shareholder, you receive weekly units of amazingly fresh and healthy foods. Members also have the opportunity to teach their kids where food comes from. After visiting a working farm, children usually become much more excited about eating the fresh vegetables you put on the table.

In conclusion, CSAs not only sponsor healthier eating habits but boost the relationships between residents of a community and the farmers who serve them.


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