Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

What Is a CSA and Why You Should Join One

Food
What Is a CSA and Why You Should Join One

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

Recycling and general waste plastic wheelie bins awaiting collection for disposal in Newport, Rhode Island. Tim Graham / Getty Images

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. According to The National Museum of American History, this popular slogan, with its iconic three arrows forming a triangle, embodied a national call to action to save the environment in the 1970s. In that same decade, the first Earth Day happened, the EPA was formed and Congress passed the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, encouraging recycling and conservation of resources, Enviro Inc. reported.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
The coal-fired Huaneng Power Plant in Huai 'an City, Jiangsu Province, China on Sept. 13, 2020. Costfoto / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

One of the silver linings of the coronavirus pandemic was the record drop in greenhouse gas emissions following national lockdowns. But that drop is set to all but reverse as economies begin to recover, the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned Tuesday.

Read More Show Less
Trending
A grizzly bear killed an outdoor guide in a rare attack near Yellowstone Park. William Campbell / Corbis / Getty Images

A backcountry guide has died after being mauled by a grizzly bear near Yellowstone National Park.

Read More Show Less
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) re-introduces the Green New Deal in Washington, D.C. on April 20, 2021. Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty Images

By Brett Wilkins

In the latest of a flurry of proposed Green New Deal legislation, Reps. Cori Bush and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Monday introduced the Green New Deal for Cities Act of 2021, a $1 trillion plan to "tackle the environmental injustices that are making us and our children sick, costing us our homes, and destroying our planet."

Read More Show Less
Offshore oil and gas drillers have left more than 18,000 miles of pipelines at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Offshore oil and gas drillers have discarded and abandoned more than 18,000 miles of pipelines on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico since the 1960s, a report from the Government Accountability Office says.

Read More Show Less