Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a term I have just learned. I know about farming. Both my husband and I have roots in farming; in fact we own the small family farm where my husband grew up, and as an avocation we grow pine trees and provide wildlife habitat. We have a fig tree that will be producing in the next week or so---and I can hardly wait. We also have several pecan trees, and we are trying to grow a few sunflowers, both for me and the other wildlife (ha). However, we are far removed from farming as livelihood. Here's what I have learned about a great program called community supported agriculture:
- Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) originated in Japan (1960s) and Europe (1970s) and began in the United States in the 1980s.
- This "movement" encourages relationships between farmers and consumers.
- The goal of this relationship is to provide solutions to the problems of small farm survival, food quality, nutrition, community building, sustainability and quality of life.
- CSA involves the consumer buying a "share" of or "membership" in a farming operation. For that share, the consumer gets a bag of produce each week during the growing season.
- This partnership provides the farmer with capital to plant the crops and ensures a guaranteed market for their products.
- As shareholders of the farm business, the consumers share the risks with the farmer. If there is no rain or if some other problem strikes, the bounty for the week might not be so bountiful. In this way, the risks are spread throughout the whole membership rather than falling solely on the farmer.
- Another benefit to the consumers is that they become more knowledgeable about the growing of food. Just like a person who buys stock in XYZ Company want to learn something about XYZ's business, the CSA consumer could learn about different varieties of vegetables, how much rain the region has enjoyed, whether there is irrigation, and what "green" techniques the farmer is using. Consumers become involved in the production of the food they eat.
- The consumer enjoys a variety of fresh produce, produced locally, and becomes directly connected to the food source.
- The consumer will be supporting a small farm and contributing to your local economy.
- Consumers can visit the farm and even work there on a volunteer basis.
- Another great benefit is the chance to build community with farmers and other shareholders.
- The CSA program encourages social responsibility towards stewarding the earth.
- Participating in a CSA program is a green thing to do.
I have learned about one CSA farm in our region, and I plan to contact the farmer this week to learn more. Do you participate in a CSA? If so, please tell us about it in your comment.
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