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What is Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)?

Updated on September 25, 2018
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Bridget is a life-long writer, runner, researcher, cat-lover, yogi and traveler. She is also a social worker and voracious reader.

What is a CSA?

A CSA, or community supported agriculture, involves a farm selling "shares" of it's produce, often to individuals who live in cities. These individuals pay for their share, and are then given a box or crate of produce each week from the farm. Some farms also include dairy products/eggs, honey or meat in their boxes as well.

What is the history farm shares/CSA?

CSA's were brought to the United States from Europe in the 1980s after two farmers from Europe came up with the idea of working together, and now there are at least 13,000 farms in the US that participate in some type of CSA program!

What are the basics of a CSA?

One of the main aspects of a CSA is that it is community based! This means that produce is local and is sold within or near to the community that the farm is located in.

Another facet of CSA's that is vital is that subscriptions or "shares" are purchased ahead of time. Individuals or families can purchase the amount of produce that they desire ahead of time and it is delivered to them during the season that the crops are harvested!

Usually deliveries take place in a centralized place or places within a community, that many people have easy access to. Subscribers will pick up their produce each week at that location. Rarely, produce may be delivered to homes as well.

Risks and rewards!

There are risks to investing in a share of crops. For instance, this model involves paying ahead of the season for your share, but if the weather is poor and there is not a great crop production you may be disappointed by the quantity or quality of the crops that you receive. Also, the person/people purchasing their shares do not get to choose how much of a certain type of produce they want and cannot exclude the kinds that they may not like or may not have tried. So, if you are a picky eater, this may not be for you!

However, there are many benefits to participation in a CSA! First, there is the benefit of supporting a local farmer during a time when huge corporations are taking over the food sector. Also, crop shares may have a huge bounty during some seasons, saving you money as you are provided with a great deal of fresh, delicious produce! And, participation in a CSA means that you are going to get to try many types of fresh produce that you may never have had the chance to try before. You may find your new favorite food!

Another great benefit of a CSA is that you will have the opportunity to better understand the food you eat! You will be purchasing crops directly from a local or nearby farm, and will begin to better understand the growing seasons and the different variables that affect growth!


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