On April 15, 2012 by Erin Fullam
**This post is part of the Get Real series. Please remember that this is meant as a learning community. We know that many of you are passionate about what you do and we want you to express that, just please do so in a way that will be an encouragement and aid to others making a transition. We want this to be a “safe space” for participants to learn. For that reason, we reserve the right to delete any comments that are not handled in this manner.
You hear it everywhere these days even in credit card commercials. The importance of buying local is so important in our economy today and for the future generations. Why not start with buying local food? It’s simple, something you use often, provides you with seasonal produce and brings you closer to your community.
Community Supported Agriculture or CSA shares are ways for you to buy produce from your local farmer during peak growing season and even throughout the year depending on where you live. CSA farms provide shares or memberships to the public, and in exchange they provide you with a box, bag or basket of produce available that week. Most farms have you pick up either on site, at their stand at your local farmers market, or at a pick up location that is supported through other members. There are Pros and Cons to having a CSA share.
- Farmers receive money early in the season to help with their cash flow and to keep them out making your produce the best it can be throughout the season.
- There is a symbiotic relationship between you and the farmer in which you both get to know each other better.
- If there is a problem with your produce, you can go directly to the source. No worries about a nation or worldwide recall.
- You get the produce at it’s peak freshness. Providing you with all of the nutrient benefits and flavor potential.
- Getting new produce that you may never have tried before, expanding your palettes.
- Getting to know where and how your food grows is a great learning experience especially for children.
- Some farms even have days where you can come and explore the farm.
- Some CSA’s do not allow you to choose the produce you get every week.
- You are taking a risk and gamble on mother nature. For example, we had a brutal late freeze in our first year of joining a CSA which wiped out an entire crop of fruit trees, so our fruit shares were very limited. Although, MOST farms will find a way of making it up to you. We got apple cider which was delicious and some extra apples for canning.
- It can be a lot of money upfront if you aren’t prepared for it.
- You may still have to supplement your share with other produce depending on your area and variety you receive.
- Most farms do their best to provide you with enough for the servings that you requested. Although their portions may be different than your expectations.
How do you get started?
Head over to Local Harvest and do a search for the closest CSA farm near you. If the farm doesn’t have a website, give them a call and ask them about their shares. Ask:
- How much do they cost?
- How many weeks do they run?
- Where do you pick up?
- Can you hold a share if you are unable to pick up?
- What variety do they have?
- Do they have options beyond produce (ex: eggs, milk, bread, flowers and meats)?
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