What is Community Supported Agriculture?

For over 25 years, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has been a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. Consumers pay an up-front cost, and in exchange receive weekly or biweekly boxes of produce for the entire summer. Some CSAs even offer market shares where customers can pay up front and draw down an account at the local farmer's market. CSAs come in all shapes and sizes to accommodate the diverse needs of consumers.

The basic idea is that a farmer offers a certain number of "shares" to the public. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a "membership" or a "subscription") and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce on a regular basis throughout the growing season.

This arrangement creates several rewards for both the farmer and the consumer.  

      Advantages for farmers:

  • Get to spend time marketing the food early in the year, before their 16 hour 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:

  • Eat 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
  • Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown