Friday, September 20, 2013

What is a CSA and Why Should You Have One?

CSA is an acronym for Community Supported Agriculture. It may be the very best example of the expression it's a win-win situation. For any family trying to eat healthy, local, seasonal produce and stay within a budget, a CSA is the way to go. For any farmer who wants to build a strong local client base, a CSA is the way to go. So what exactly is it? A farm makes available a number of "shares" for a fee, the farmer plants his or her gardens knowing how many shareholders she has invested in her crops and as the crops are harvested each shareholder picks up their share of the bounty. The fee may be a one time cash fee, a monthly payment, a commitment to volunteering on the farm, an agreement to barter items or a combination of these; each farm establishes what works best for their farm and their community. For example our family has participated in Farm to Family's CSA program for many seasons. Since they carry an array of local items, their CSA includes local pasture raised meat, eggs from free-range hens, dairy, and other specialty items and they charge a fee that can be paid all at once or monthly. (Just a little cross-promotion for one of my favorite local stores.) I have also seen CSAs that the share-holders did most of the work of maintaining the crops and the farmer charged only a low fee for overhead & use of the land. What is constant in each of these variations though is that the community is able to access local in season produce at it's peak of freshness. It also builds a living, working, vibrant connection between farmers and their clients. As a farmer I may hear from my customers that they love home canning, so I then know that perhaps I should plant sauce tomatoes in greater numbers than slicing tomatoes. Within the micro-community of a CSA recipes may be shared and friendships formed. 
Serendipity Farm is now offering shares for our Fall CSA. This is our first venture into both CSAs  and fall gardening so we're offering shares for a very low fee. We're asking $100 (which covers the whole fall season until the end of December) and a commitment of 2 hours per month volunteering at the farm. We'll also offer our Fall shareholders a discount on our Spring CSA for being brave enough to learn with us this season.  

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