A C.S.A. or Community Shared Agriculture is a wonderful model of agriculture and food distribution. A C.S.A. allows opportunity for the local community of food buying public to purchase direct from a local farm and receive a return weekly, or bi-weekly in produce depending on the farm. The farmer sells memberships for the year’s crop of vegetables, fruits, flowers, and nuts. Buyers pay early in the year and then receive a box of produce for a set number of weeks during the harvest per the arrangement. Membership is paid annually or quarterly in exchange for a weekly or bi-weekly assortment of farm fresh produce or other farm products. This pledge of support, allows families to support the farm budget, which helps keep the farm in business. The buyer receives seasonably ripe, fresh and nutritious fruits and vegetables direct from the farm. This system of direct marketing cuts advertising costs, wasteful packaging materials and transit time, allowing consumers to invest in a farm during its growing season, in return for part of the harvest.
Make sure you call ahead to get on the waiting list as many C.S.A.’s fill up quick. C.S.A.’s are also now expanding providing additional items including vegetarian fed, free range eggs, organic breads, grains, cheeses and other value added products.
Type of Availability: Organic Fruits, Nuts, Dried Fruits, Herbs, Vegetables, Grains, Artisan breads, farm fresh eggs, cheeses and spices.
Availability: Most C.S.A.’ s run all year, however some others are only seasonal.
Membership Dues: Member pays Annual or Quarterly Member Fees
Expect to Get: You get more for your money then regular or standard stores. Items are fresher and much less costly as much of the transport costs, packaging and advertising are not needed allowing them to relay the savings direct to the buyer from the farm.
Expect to Pay: Membership fees range from $306 – $415 for 22 weeks. Which breaks down to $13.90 to $18.86 per week for a large fresh basket filled for the week of fresh fruits, vegetables, and more. Just add your protein and your family is nicely fed with plenty of cooking essentials, onions, garlic, leeks, potatoes, squash, tomato, herbs, fresh spices and other delicious vegetables, fruits, nuts and more. Most C.S.A.’s have a selection that rotates based on seasonality but have offerings throughout the year of different things in season. You will also want to check with your local C.S.A. as many have flexible payments in the off season to break down the full amount if it is steep for you all at once. Others will break it into 2, 3 or 4 payments to make it easier on your wallet come harvest season.
Distribution: Fresh Organic Fruits, Vegetables and More Distributed weekly or Bi-weekly depending on the farms distribution arrangements and types of foods offered
Expansion: Some C.S.A.’s are offering bread, eggs, and flowers.
Green Factor: Reduces waste and risk for farms, supporting small community economy. This allows the farm to focus on the farm throughout the year without the worry of sales of the products they produce. Produce is freshest with no intermediary parties or major transit.