If you’re looking for the best produce this summer, look no further than a joining a CSA. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture (Program), and it is a way for you to connect with local growers to get fresh, local goods, all while supporting your community’s economy and the livelihoods of one of our most important industries – agriculture.
What it is
Agriculture is a very difficult industry, one where the majority of income is derived during only a few short months. A CSA is a contract between you and a local grower, to provide them with income in exchange for part of their crop. It’s the best of both worlds – you get fresh veggies and the grower gets a regular source of income.
How it Works
For an upfront fee, the grower will commit to a weekly delivery of goods (or you can arrange for pickup). Depending on the size of your investment you may receive a small, medium, or large box of fresh produce per week. You may also be able to customize your box (to a degree) in order to include or exclude certain veggies. How does this different from any other “veggie delivery” service? The key to a CSA is that you are essentially buying a share of the harvest, upfront, rather than just paying for veggies.
Why it’s Great
Although some of us could take a trip to the farmer’s market on a weekly basis, for many it’s just not feasible. Participation in a CSA give you access to fresh veggies for 8-10 weeks during the year (or more, depending on where you live) while you directly support local growers, with no middlemen. Besides supporting growers, you’re also helping the planet by reducing the carbon emissions since your veggies are coming from a much closer location. Additionally, if you can find an organic CSA participant, then you’ll have access to produce free of pesticides and other harmful chemicals. Each CSA differs, so find out what’s involved prior to commitment. You may want a CSA that delivers to you or find one that has a nearby pickup location to make getting your produce easy. In addition, each farm will also have a different variety of produce offered – find one that offers a selection that you find appealing.
To get started, find out if there are CSAs in your area. You can search for “CSA” and your locality, or check out Local Harvest to search for CSAs on their website, or to find out more about how these programs work. Tell us, have you ever joined a CSA? What was your experience like?