What is a CSA?
Community Supported Agriculture allows you to buy a “share” from a local farm; in return you receive a box of farm-fresh produce every week during the growing season. The farm benefits from your financial and community support. You benefit by receiving the best local produce at better prices and by getting to know your farmer. It’s a special relationship that builds community, supports our farmers and gives you first pick of peak-fresh products.
Each CSA program is unique. Some deliver boxes to your home or a central pick-up location; some require on-farm pick-up. Some offer add-ons, like eggs or flowers; some are produce-only. Some have installment-payment plans; some require payment up-front at the start of the season; and some offer weekly pay-as-you-go options.
Our family used Pioneer Organics for a time before they were sold and became Spud. We like to shop at farmer's markets and have been dancing around the issues of buying local, choosing organic vs commercial produce, eating more healthy foods, and being more conscious about our environment and our planet. We continued this way for a few years, and then my daughter's health class did a project on Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). She learned quite a bit about the ramifications of buying local, and the challenges and complexities of choosing healthy foods that are good for us and good for the planet. Part of her project was to explore CSAs in the area and compare buying our food from a CSA with getting the same produce from commercial grocers. This got us fired up and we looked into joining a CSA this spring. We looked at several farms and organic produce delivery options and decided to sign up. Details about how we decided and which farm we chose follow.
Choosing a CSA
We are fortunate to live in an area that has so many CSA options. Check them out here,or here. We discussed these options and came up with these criteria for choosing a CSA:
Location of the pick up site
These criteria meant that we eliminated the organic produce companies that deliver boxes of produce year round. An important component to this for us is to buy local. We want to eat the produce that is being grown right here, right now. We also liked the idea of being able to visit the farm and pick our own produce. The CSA we chose delivers to a spot near our neighborhood, but also invites members to come out to the farm and pick all the flowers, herbs, and greens you like. That connection to the farm is an aspect that we really wanted. The prices among the CSA's we compared were all fairly similar. There were differences in payment methods. Some let you make monthly payments, others ask for payment up front. The CSA we chose let you pay in 2 or 3 installments and offered a discount for paying more upfront. After looking at these criteria we ended up choosing this one.
There are certainly plenty of CSAs in our area that offer something for everyone. Check it out and join us on this adventure in eating fresh local produce. Our 1st box comes this week. When it arrives, we will post a list of the contents, with pictures, along with our thoughts, ideas, inspirations, and recipes.