Community Supported Agriculture

What is Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)?

Problem statement: People in the U.S. and other industrialized countries walk into a supermarket and buy fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats without knowing anything about the kind of farm where the food was grown, or how far the food had to travel to get to the grocery store.

This ignorance is leading to the demise of local small-scale farms that contribute to local economies. This ignorance is also leading to the degradation of soil, air, and water because large-scale farms tend to use large amounts of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, plus farming practices that promote soil erosion.

In the 1980s several farmers brought the idea of community-supported agriculture (CSA) to North America. Since then over 1000 CSAs have been formed in the U.S. Many are listed in the Robyn Van En Center for CSA Resources’ CSA database.

The idea of a CSA is simple: The farmer agrees to plant certain crops and consumers agree to purchase “shares” in the CSA. Each week the farmer gives each shareholder a generous supply of freshly-grown foods. This way the consumer shares in the under abundance during bad years and in the overabundance during good years. And the farmer gets financial support to keep going.

CSAs are consumers and farmers working together on behalf of the economic and environmental viability of their local communities.

CSAs do the following for a community and its farmers:

  1. CSAs give the consumer choice about how and where their food is grown.
  2. Most CSA farmers care about the soil they grow food in so they take care of it without using pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Ground water pollution is reduced and toxic residues on food are minimized.
  3. Locally-grown, fresh-harvested food is more nutritious than the food one encounters in the grocery store because it has not had to travel hundreds or thousands of miles.
  4. People get to know others in their community in a mutually-supporting way.

Do you want to promote small-farming in your region and put freshly-grown food on your dinner table? Buy a share in a CSA.
To locate a CSA in your area, see Farmers’ Markets at Local Harvest.
In Canada try

The Ready Store
"The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patient in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease" ~ Thomas Jefferson

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