Community Supported Agriculture, more widely known as CSA, is a membership arrangement between CSA members and one specific farm. The member pays fees either upfront or on a payment system, depending on the farm. This helps support the farm production costs at the beginning of the season. In return, the member receives a weekly share of the harvest during the growing season. Normally, the member doesn’t pick the produce or other goods that they want in their “share” but instead receive a box with a variety of produce each week. There is of course risk buying into a CSA, with weather and other unforeseen circumstances that can affect harvest production. However, CSA membership supports the local economy and helps to keep small farms in business.
To contrast, farmer’s markets provide similar local economic support but an individual can go from stand to stand purchasing exactly what they want.
If you are interested in joining a CSA, now is the time to do so! Sign-ups for most CSAs have already begun and usually close by Mid-March.
We were torn between joining a CSA or relying on farmer’s markets for our weekly produce and, after considerable thought, I think that farmer’s markets work best for our family right now. I was initially excited to find a CSA that is approximately 25 minutes away from where we live. However, I would have to commit to driving to the farm on an assigned day between the designated times to pick up my share. This particular CSA runs from May through October (20 weeks) and costs broke down to $32.50/week for vegetables only.
I think if we commit to making sure that visit the farmer’s market each week, like we would the grocery store, we will be more likely to make it each week. I also think the kids will enjoy the process of seeing the different fruits and vegetables and picking out what they want us to try. There are a couple of semi-local winter farmer’s markets near us that we can visit from January through May, when the regular farmer’s market season begins. Once May arrives, there are several different farmer’s markets that we can visit.
We will be updating the blog with our purchases and recipes!