Principles and benefits of community supported agriculture
Answers to three main questions: What CSA is? Why do it? How to join?
Harvest time attracts people to fall festive farms for apples, cider, pumpkins and donuts! An annual tradition or visit perhaps could turn to more by learning about community supported agriculture.
Michigan State University Extension promotes local food shopping from the agriculture and nutrition aspects. Both aspects of educational programming align on the subject of community supported agriculture.
What is community supported agriculture?
Community supported agriculture (CSA) consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually the communities farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production. Typically members or “shareholders” of the farm or garden pledge in advance to cover the anticipated costs of the farm operation and farmer’s salary. In return, they receive shares in the farm’s bounty throughout the growing season, as well as satisfaction gained from reconnecting to the land and participating directly in food production.”
Why a CSA?
- Increased variety of produce. Exposure and access to new food has led to creativity in the kitchen. From blueberry and kale smoothies, to eggplant lasagna, fresh tomato salsa and zucchini bread – each CSA pick-up of fresh produce leads to an adventure.
- A variety of package offerings are designed to meet individual or family needs. Often with accessibility through SNAP food assistance benefits.
- Creates a connection between the grower volunteers and where food comes from.
- New knowledge about sustainable farming practices. Growers are a wealth of information on crop varieties, planting and harvesting, soil preparation and practices and climate. Besides conversations at markets and on the farm, expertise is shared through publications like Grand Traverse Edible, which included a feature titled Fall Planting on Four-Season Farm, by Mary Brower.
- Brings generations and communities together. Rubbing elbows with neighbors at pick-ups leads to so much more over time.
- Environmentally friendly.
- Growing practices may contain low or no pesticides and hormones.
- There is very little travel cost/emissions compared to shipping food hundreds or thousands of miles.
- Growers maybe interested in reusing plastic bags, boxes or egg cartons, which leads to more ways of being involved.
How do you get involved?
You can find growers in your area by talking to local farm market vendors/market master, as well as, through the United States Department of Agriculture. You can also use online resources found at http://www.mlui.org/, http://www.localharvest.org/csa/