Over the last 20 years, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. Here are the basics: Early in the year a farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public, based on expected harvest yield. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a “membership” or a “subscription”) and in return receive a box, bag, or basket of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.
Advantages for farmers:
- They get to spend time marketing the food early in the year, before their long days in the field begin
- Receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm’s cash flow
- Have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow
Advantages for consumers:
- They eat ultra-fresh food, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits
- Get exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cooking
- Usually get to visit the farm at least once a season
- Find that kids typically favor food from “their” farm – even veggies they’ve never been known to eat
- Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown
- Help reduce the carbon footprint because of a shorter distance to transport the food than the typical food found in the supermarket and
- support the local economy!
It’s a simple enough idea, and its impact has been profound. Across the country, tens of thousands of families have joined CSAs. If this idea appeals to you, a list of local CSAs is available on Oregon Tilth.
Yamhill Valley Grown is NOT a CSA. The difference will be discussed tomorrow.