WHAT IS CSA?
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a way for consumers to buy local, seasonal produce directly from a farmer in their community. It is basically a farm “share”. A farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public.
Community & Economy. CSAs help us, the farmers, in a number of ways. Since we market our CSA subscriptions early in the year, we get to spend our time in the fields during the growing season, instead of trying to generate business. The payment early in the season also helps us fund the crops that year – from seeds to improvements to the soil to new equipment.
Local farmers are small business owners. Spending money with a local business instead of at a big box retailer or chain keeps more of those dollars in your own community. Supporting local businesses does really matter. It is a way of living mindfully, supporting sustainable businesses, voting with your dollars, being an active participant in your own life.
CSAs are also a great way to foster local community. On your pickup days, you get to interact with the farmer that grew the food you’ll be eating that night. Learning more about our farm, building these relationships, and finding out more about where your food comes from: these are all good things.
Family. CSAs are an amazing opportunity to get kids involved in their “food chain” – they get to meet the farmers, ask questions, learn about new vegetables and fruits, touch, see, and smell, learn colors and tastes, and more. The more they are invested in their food, getting to pick it up, help in the kitchen, meet the farmers, the more likely they will be to actually eat the stuff. Farms usually sponsor a couple “open house” events throughout the year for their CSA subscribers, which is a great chance to get to visit the farm, meet more of the workers, and see what else is growing. It’s a fun and educational family outing too. The kids love running around the fields, seeing the farm animals, and spending time in the sun.
Seasonal & Environmental. If you’ve ever eaten a strawberry picked at the peak of its season, still warm from the early summer sun, then you know the wonderful, intoxicating deliciousness of seasonal produce. Contrast that: if you’ve ever been tempted to buy a strawberry from the grocery store in December, you remember what a bland, flavorless disappointment it was. There really is a difference when you eat produce in season.
What does eating seasonally mean? It means you buy foods that are being grown and harvested locally, right now. It does not mean buying “fresh” green beans in January when you live in New Jersey (those were shipped in from Mexico, probably) or eating “fresh” asparagus in August (asparagus is a very early Spring vegetable).
By buying seasonally, you guarantee that the food is local. You’re not harming the environment by shipping the food thousands of miles (with all the carbon footprint that entails). You also are guaranteeing that you get the freshest, most nutritious and tasty food available.