What is 'Community Supported Agriculture'?
Community supported agriculture (also called community shared agriculture or CSA) originally developed in the early 1960's in Japan, Germany, and Switzerland as an ecologically and socially equitable response to growing concern about food safety and the urbanization of agricultural land.
Part of a growing social movement, CSA is a mutual commitment between producers and consumers of food which aims to re-build connections between farmers and their local communities. In CSA, members, or shareholders, sign up and purchase a "share" at the beginning of the growing season which helps to cover the farmer's cost of operation and production. In return, they receive a portion of the farm's harvest, distributed throughout the season in a weekly box of fresh, seasonally available, and typically organic, produce. Together, farmers and members share in the risk, responsibility, and bounty of the harvest.
Benefits to members
- Exceptionally fresh, high-quality, locally produced, nutritious vegetables at a fair price
- Knowledge of where your food comes from and how it is grown
- Develop direct relationships with local farms and farmers
- Opportunity to learn about new vegetables, recipes, and cooking tips
- Opportunity to visit and participate in local farm activities
Benefits to farmers
- Money at the beginning of the season when it is needed for start-up and before there is an income from market sales
- Guaranteed a reliable price and market for their produce throughout the season
- Build relationships with community members
- Develop meaning and satisfaction through direct connections with consumers
Benefits to the community
- Keeps food dollars in the community
- Helps the community build and maintain regional food systems
- Contributes to local economy
- Provides rural employment
- Supports small-scale and family farms