Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

What Is a CSA and Why You Should Join One

Food

A CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, is a way to support farmers in your area by buying into a share of food for the growing season. Similar models existed in Europe, Japan and elsewhere before its arrival in the U.S. in the 1980s.

Fresh Fork Market CSA in Cleveland, Ohio aggregates products from about 100 farms within a 75-mile radius. Photo credit: Fresh Fork Market

Inspired by Rudolf Steiner, the philosopher and social reformer who is credited with developing Waldorf education and biodynamic agriculture, a German and a Swiss biodynamic farmer brought the concept to the U.S. and simultaneously but independently established Indian Line Farm in Massachusetts and Temple-Wilton Community Farm in New Hampshire in 1986.

Flash forward to 2015 and there are now several thousand farms participating in CSA programs across the U.S. The popularity of these programs stems from a desire for consumers to connect with and support local growers who are farming in an ecologically sound way.

It's a win-win for consumers and growers because consumers get delicious, fresh and mostly, if not all, organic produce throughout the growing season, and growers have the financial support from their customers at the beginning of the season. Other benefits for farmers include being able to market the food early in the year before the height of the growing season and being able to know the people they are feeding with their food.

Farming has always been risky business. Pests, disease, natural disasters and now climate change can devastate a farm. The benefit of a CSA is that members pay upfront and agree to be flexible with what comes in their share. For example, late-season frost may destroy stone fruits like peaches one season, and customers have to deal with that. Most CSA programs can compensate for a shortage of one crop with other produce.

CSA programs vary. Some are as small as a dozen customers while others have 3,500 customers. There are CSAs made up of one farm and others aggregate products from 100 or more farms in the area.

Fresh Fork Market CSA in Cleveland, Ohio aggregates products from about 100 farms within a 75-mile radius. It operates year-round, providing its 3,500 customers with a weekly share in the summer and a bi-weekly share in the winter. Fresh Fork offers meat, dairy, vegetables, fruits, grains and even value-added products such as pies, salsa and Bloody Mary mix that are made using the area's products. Some of the producers include Newswanger Meats, Eschelman Fruit Farm and Snowville Creamery.

First Light Farm in Petaluma, California, on the other hand, runs a CSA program from their 20-acre farm alone. The farm offers a fairly diverse array of vegetables, herbs and fruits to consumers in Sonoma and Marin Counties. Bay Area residents could, for example, pair that CSA subscription with one to Marin Sun Farms, which offers grass-fed and pastured raised meats, to get more of their food from local sources.

Local Harvest, which is a website that connects consumers with local growers, has a database of more than 6,000 farms to help you find a CSA near you.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Farmers Rewarded for Practicing ‘Carbon Farming’

WWOOFing 101

Revolutionary Family Shows True Meaning of Self-Reliance

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

An aerial view of a crude oil storage facility of Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) in the Krasnodar Territory. Vitaly Timkiv / TASS / Getty Images

Oil rigs around the world keep pulling crude oil out of the ground, but the global pandemic has sent shockwaves into the market. The supply is up, but demand has plummeted now that industry has ground to a halt, highways are empty, and airplanes are parked in hangars.

Read More Show Less
Examples (from left) of a lead pipe, a corroded steel pipe and a lead pipe treated with protective orthophosphate. U.S. EPA Region 5

Under an agreement negotiated by community groups — represented by NRDC and the Pennsylvania Utility Law Project — the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) will remove thousands of lead water pipes by 2026 in order to address the chronically high lead levels in the city's drinking water and protect residents' health.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
ROBYN BECK / AFP / Getty Images

By Dave Cooke

So, they finally went and did it — the Trump administration just finalized a rule to undo requirements on manufacturers to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new passenger cars and trucks. Even with the economy at the brink of a recession, they went forward with a policy they know is bad for consumers — their own analysis shows that American drivers are going to spend hundreds of dollars more in fuel as a result of this stupid policy — but they went ahead and did it anyway.

Read More Show Less

By Richard Connor

A blood test that screens for more than 50 types of cancer could help doctors treat patients at an earlier stage than previously possible, a new study shows. The method was used to screen for more than 50 types of cancer — including particularly deadly variants such as pancreatic, ovarian, bowel and brain.

Read More Show Less
Ian Sane / Flickr

Preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control showed a larger number of young people coming down with COVID-19 than first expected, with patients under the age of 45 comprising more than a third of all cases, and one in five of those patients requiring hospitalization. That also tends to be the group most likely to use e-cigarettes.

Read More Show Less