Community Supported Agriculture.
The idea is simple. Get community members to pay farmers the cost upfront for receiving a weekly box full of the harvest’s bounty.
Of course, there is a shared risk factor involved in anything to do with farming. If a crop gets damaged or fails to produce anything, the consumer and the farmer are both negatively impacted.
The original CSA format, promoted by Robyn Van En, called for community members to participate in the labor on the farms using the share model approach. Now, with more and more members joining from cities and urban centers, there has been a shift to what is known as a subscription based model.
On the plus side, community members receive a substantial amount of locally produced, farm fresh products that allow them to eat healthy and cost-effectively. For the farmer, they receive money upfront, which helps with their cash flow through the growing season. Also, they help build a community bond with their neighbors by sharing what they do.
Benefits include local variety, introduction of new vegetables, economic viability for the farmer, opportunity for a living wage for farmers, local distribution of food (>100 mile radius) decreases transportation and carbon costs, community celebrations like harvest festivals, and donations of excess produce to food banks.
The subscription CSA model can involve a single farm, but it is becoming increasingly common to have multiple farms participate. This way, if a crop does not do well on one farm, the box can be supplemented with produce from a different farm.One of the biggest challenges that CSA farmers face is in getting land security for farms that are closest to urban centers.
On the consumer side, cost can be the biggest determining factor. Asking individuals or families on tight budgets to submit a lump payment, before the season begins, is not a feasible option. Some CSA’s are tackling this problem by offering a sliding scale option that can even accept SNAP benefits through certain USDA grants (Solomon). These are known as Agriculture Supported Communities (ASC). (Celebrate CSA). The weekly payment format is more accessible for low-budget families or for individuals on fixed income.
Everyone wants to eat healthy, locally grown produce. The issue is the cost and availability of such products. If you want to support your local farmers, while also being sustainably healthy, look below for some different choices. Spend time investigating the best fit for you and your family. There are lots of options!
In the Wenatchee valley, here are some options for joining a CSA:
If you’re in the Seattle area, check out http://www.seattletilth.org/about/stcsa
Or visit http://www.pugetsoundfresh.org/find-csa to find a CSA near you.
Farmer’s markets are a great choice as well, and may take less time and money to participate in.
Below are some links to farmer’s markets coming in to season soon:
Cascadia Conservation District will be hosting a Backyard Gardening workshop on Saturday, April 15th. Come on over to the Community Education Garden to learn more about composting, gardening, and even backyard chickens!!!
Local Harvest. “Community Supported Agriculture.” http://www.localharvest.org/csa/
McFadden, Steven. “The History of Community Supported Agriculture, Part II.” February, 2004. Rodale Institute Dig Deeper Blog. http://rodaleinstitute.org/the-history-of-community-supported-agriculture-part-ii/
Rodale Institute. “Celebrate CSA Day with Rodale Institute.” Dig Deeper Blog. 22 Feb. 2017. https://rodaleinstitute.org/celebrate-csa-day-with-rodale-institute/
Solomon, Nicole. “CSA aims for affordability.” Mother Nature Network. 26 Aug. 2009. http://www.mnn.com/your-home/organic-farming-gardening/stories/csa-aims-for-affordability