CSA basics: What is community supported agriculture

This is the first post in a three-part series. Learn how to find the right farm and how to prepare and use the food you get from a CSA.

A typical CSA share for me

A typical CSA share for me

I have been a part of a community supported agriculture program for three years. I write about it a lot here. But I know there are a lot of questions surrounding a CSA. These are questions I receive, questions I had before joining. I mention on the blog about my CSA, but I decided to explain what it is, how to get involved and what to expect.

Maybe I got spoiled since I grew up in the breadbasket of North America, but really I’ve lived in enough regions of the U.S. to know and appreciate there is unique, fresh and healthy food everywhere. I thought I didn’t like peaches until I got one at a market not long after I moved to Georgia. In Iowa many people grow beans and tomatoes in their yard. And in August, nobody can eat too much sweet corn, as everyone knows it won’t last long. Now that I live in Florida I’m blessed with fresh food year-round, and have had mangoes, avocados and star fruit from trees in the yards of people I know. This is a great place to live for produce.

I write often about my CSA and how much I love it, how it is right for me. I understand for one reason or another it might not be right for you. But in many parts of the United States CSAs are starting or people are heading to markets, so I thought I would answer some common questions. In these posts I will compile information and resources about CSAs. I will add to this list as is necessary.

If you have any questions/tips/websites to add please leave it in a comment at the bottom or email Valerie@Kaleandale.com.

What is a CSA?

A CSA program is where members buy one share or portion of what a farmer grows for a set time. The money covers the cost of the food and labor needed to grow the food. In return the members get food every set time (typically every week or every other week). The members are invested both financially and to the point where if weather or pests don’t cooperate, there isn’t as much food to go around. But if conditions are great, the member will get a lot of great, local, fresh food.

Reasons I love my CSA:

  • It is about the same price I would spend on similar produce at the store
  • I’m eating food in season picked at the peak of freshness
  • The variety of food stretches me to try new recipes or foods I thought I might not like
  • My share is delivered or picked up in a box; I don’t need to spend time picking out food
  • I’m supporting a local business
  • The quality is  much higher than at the store
  • I get foods that I can’t find in my grocery store
  • I know about the growing process via the farmer

Have you been part of a CSA? What did you think of it?