Community Supported Agriculture: A Primer

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CSA

Either you immediately know what this is or you’ve never heard of it before (but you may have heard my rambling explanation).

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. The idea is that you pay a local farm directly for a weekly boxed share of their produce during the growing season, which you can pick up at the farm or another local spot.

From justfood.org:
When you become a member of a CSA, you’re purchasing a “share” of vegetables from a regional farmer. Weekly or bi-weekly, from June until October or November, your farmer will deliver that share of produce to a convenient drop-off location in your neighborhood.

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What makes a CSA different from just purchasing produce at a farm stand? The biggest difference in the model is that you pay upfront for the entire season; this typically ranges in price from $450 to $650. That can seem pricey, but amounts to $25 to $35 a week for a typical 16 to 22 week season. One thing CSA shares are not is skimpy. They tend to be overflowing with enough food for a whole family, which is great if you fit that mold. More CSAs are offering really great flexible options – such as reduced share sizes, reduced share weeks, and options to choose your own produce, include farm fresh eggs, get more fruit, etc. The model of paying upfront allows the farmer to plan for the season, purchase new seed, make equipment repairs, and more.

I haven’t participated in a traditional CSA as I’ve got the time, energy & motivation to grow my own veggies and can usually make it to a farmers market every week, but depending on your situation they can be a great option to eat healthier, save money, and support your local farmer at the same time.

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My own little ‘CSA’ share from my garden.

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