In recent years more and more people are getting behind local shopping and local eating. As a result, we see more farmers’ markets popping up to help those trying to shop locally. CSA is the modern-day savior of the industry for anyone who grew up on a farm or cared about the farming industry.
But many of us are still unfamiliar with precisely what CSA Farming is and how it can benefit farmers and our communities as a whole. So let this be your introduction to the concept.
What is a CSA Farm?
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. The United States Department of Agriculture (U.S.D.A) refers to CSA as a local community’s pledge to support a local farm.
The most traditional practice that a CSA farm will have is members buying a share of the production well before the crop season begins. Then, once harvesting seasons start, that farmer or member can pick up their bounty and resell their crop at a better price.
While this was the original way to do this, many CSA’s have taken their own rules and structure as they continue to get more popular.
The farm belongs to the community, in other words. The practice of Community Supported Agriculture came from its original creators across the Atlantic. But in 1986, The Indian Line Farm in Massachusetts and Temple-Wilton Farm in New Hampshire adopted the policies.
Cons to CSA Farms
CSA Farms are significant in terms of what they do to support the environment, farm-to-table eating, and the farm itself. But as with anything, there are some drawbacks to consider.
- You are committed, which we will stress throughout the article. This means that if the tomatoes go wrong, these are your tomatoes and your loss. That’s why choosing a farm can be an essential process.
- You get to eat seasons, but you also have limited options at certain times because of this. So the idea is to eliminate the middleman that is transported.
- While it teaches you not to waste food, if you do so, this is your loss. Once you purchase a certain amount, this is what you are committed to. It guarantees that it all gets picked up. Or at the very least it guarantees that the farmer gets paid.
So How Do CSA Farms Benefit Farmers?
CSA’s absolutely benefit farmers, but they aren’t the only ones who get to take advantage of a CSA. Since CSA’s are community-led, both the eater and the farmer will take the same benefits as they do the same risks.
In addition, there is a financial security element for farmers as the farming industry generally weighs risk when crops don’t turn out right, natural disasters strike, etc., which can ruin their livelihood and earnings.
Let’s Address Some of the Main Benefits
Here are some more direct benefits you can count on when you join a CSA farm share.
- Since the local community is directly involved in the crop, there is much more transparency in the food process. In addition, CSAs are a direct connection from consumer to producer, which means less food gets wasted.
- Eating seasonally becomes an option as the gap between farm to plate closes. This is usually a costly option but with a member-price led CSA, this becomes more of an affordable opportunity rather than a trend.
- This is an incredibly environmentally friendly approach to farming thanks to less waste. In recent times we have seen many of the CSA farms take into consideration other efficient farming methods such as use of hydroponic farming especially in the region experiencing freezing winters making traditional outdoor work impossible for almost 5-6 months. The farmers found a way to extend their growing season by adding indoor hydroponic container systems to their existing CSA farms through such container farm procedures – something to keep an eye from a long term impact purpose.
- CSA farming introduces tight-knit communities and social activities within a community that offers a positive effect and outreach. It’s a hands-on type of experience with what you put on your plate.
These are just a few main benefits, but many more can be found once you join a specific community with its own set of guidelines.
What is the difference between a CSA and a Farmer’s Market?
Many people confuse CSAs for Farmers Markets. Farmer’s markets and CSAs have a lot of similarities in the types of groups they serve. However, they are different in their ways of operation. The easiest way to understand the difference is to put them side by side.
A farmer’s market and a CSA both bring local communities together, but they do it in different ways.
- A farmer’s market brings together individual business owners and farmers to sell their products just as they would at a grocery store. A CSA brings locals together to work on one farm and share the produce through a different buying method.
- You can go in and get just what you need at a farmer’s market. However, you are more committed to purchasing a half or quarter share of the produce at a CSA. Sometimes smaller amounts are offered since this is a lot of food.
In general, CSAs are the next big step to being environmentally friendly, supporting farm culture, and living sustainably.
How to Find a Local CSA Farm
For those who love the idea, the next step would be finding a local CSA farm that you can be a part of. Luckily, the process of finding a farm share isn’t too tricky. The CSA directory has a list of farm shares where you can search by what you are looking for, the area you are looking in, and you can even look at other categories like farmer’s markets, food hubs, and so much more.
If you also want to find good local CSAs, search for farming blogs that cover topics like CSAs and farmer’s markets to get the full low down on a specific CSA. You can also learn more about trending practices within these communities.
Should You Join a Local CSA?
CSAs are not for everyone but everyone; it doesn’t take long to get used to the standards. However, it allows them to not only share their love for farming but also participate in healthy habits and behaviors. This provides you with a farm-fresh feel without the expensive costs.
Even some of the drawbacks of a CSA have positive effects. For example, while you are committed to a reasonable sum of produce that is seasonal, it teaches you and your loved ones not to be wasteful with that food. Bring on the kale! And while it may be upsetting to have a bad batch of crops you invested in, you are supporting and protecting local farms and food that may go out of business without this type of investment plan.
This allows everyone to have access to healthy food while positively impacting the environment.