CSA – now, if you know what that means, then those three letters will likely get you very excited! If you don’t know what those three letters stand for, allow me to explain.
CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture is the newest craze to hit the organic food world, allowing green thumbs and gardening novices to enjoy a farm-to-table lifestyle. Community Supported Agriculture is a commitment between a farm and a community of supporters which provides a direct link between the production and consumption of food.
A CSA is a mutual relationship in which a farm supports the community’s needs for fresh, nutritious, wholesome and organic food; and the community support further allows a farmer to devote his/her energies to gentle, conscientious and sustainable farming practices.
So here is the breakdown of how the system works. A farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public, where a typically share consists of a box of vegetables, and, depending on which type of CSA you join, other farm products.
Interested consumers purchase a share or shares (aka a “membership” or a “subscription”), and in return receive a box of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.
The benefits of CSA
- Ultra-fresh food, with all the nutritious benefits
- Exposure to new types of produce
- Education in farming and vegetable rearing
- Develop a relationship with the farmer rearing the food- invaluable, in my opinion!
In my experience, there are various types of CSA membership opportunities. Some require only the upfront payment, which varies depending on region, size of box (whether it serves 3,6, 8 or more, for example); but, others, such as mine, require a minimum of six hours of work during the growing season in addition to the upfront payment.
The variations on the contracts are endless when it comes to CSA commitments, and, generally speaking, farmers are willing to accommodate.
So what’s the downside, you ask? Well, like farmers, our CSA haul is at the mercy of the weather. If there is a bad growing season, it will be reflected in your weekly CSA.
For instance, last year the rain in Edmonton wreaked havoc on my CSA crops and the only thing that managed to thrive was zucchini, so I ate A LOT of it. But it’s all part of the CSA game. This season, however, is prepping to be a good one, which means that the odds are slim of me having to visit a grocery store for any produce.
The CSA season is almost here, but it isn’t too late to get in on the action. To find a CSA near you, simply Google the term “CSA” or “community supported agriculture group”. If your location setting are enabled on Google (they are by default), listing for local groups should pop up.