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Common Sense Solutions - Starting Now

Community Supported Agriculture - CSA

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Your Farmer Is Your Friend

Over the last 20 years, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer.

Here are the basics: a farmer offers a certain number of "shares" to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (a "membership" or a "subscription") and in return receive a box of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.

This arrangement creates several rewards for both the farmer and the consumer.

The consumers get fresh seasonal produce, and they know the source. They get to know the farmer and the rest of the CSA community. The weekly boxes often feature food they may not otherwise have sought out. Discovery, discussions and new cooking repertoire results! It is also less expensive that buying organic in stores.

The advantages for the farmers are that the money for the season comes in at the beginning, which helps with cash flow, they get to spend time marketing the food early in the year, before their 16 hour days in the field begin.

Also, they have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow.

The impact of CSA's has been profound. In some areas of the country there is more demand than there are CSA farms to fill it.

Short of growing all your produce yourself, what can be a more satisfying way to secure your food than this? You are in a direct, symbiotic relationship with the people who grow your food throughout the growing season, cutting out middlemen, packaging, shipping costs, pesticides, fertilizers -- and having to go to the supermarket!

--Bibi Farber