Eat Well with Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

I just bought my first share in a local Community Supported Agriculture effort.  I am excited to begin receiving my food and curious to see how it develops as the months go on.

What is Community Supported (or Shared) Agriculture?

Simply put a CSA is a form of an alternative food network.  A CSA consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farming operation where the growers and consumers share the risks and benefits of food production.

CSAs generally focus on the production of high quality foods for a local community, often using organic or biodynamic farming methods, and a shared risk membership–marketing structure.

How does it work?

The core design includes developing a cohesive consumer group that is willing to fund a whole season’s budget in order to get quality foods.

CSAs usually consist of a system of weekly delivery or pick-up of vegetables and fruit – like a food box – and sometimes can contain meat and dairy.

CSAs are different from buying clubs and home delivery services where the consumer buys a specific product at a predetermined price. CSA members receives only what the farm is able to successfully grow and harvest sharing some of the growing risk with the farmer. If the strawberry crop is not successful, for example, the CSA member will share the burden of the crop failure by receiving fewer, or lower quality, strawberries for the season.

Benefits of CSA

With CSA you are supporting the local agriculture efforts of family-run farming operations (in most cases).  You receive high quality foods, usually grown organically, that are ripe and in-season.  The nutritional value is higher in foods that are harvested when ripe and eaten, rather than harvested early and shipped to major grocery stores.  Knowing exactly where your product has come from is a unique feeling these days. CSAs support the local economy, keeping money in the area, and reducing dependence on outside sources. In many cases, pick up of food shares are done right at the farms, which gives you a chance to experience the country atmosphere.

Drawbacks of CSA

In a lot of ways CSAs are an investment in the unknown.  There are many factors that can affect a growing season such as weather, insects, and unforeseen circumstances with the farming operation.  If the harvest of a particular crop is unsuccessful then that will result in receiving fewer or perhaps lower quality produce for that crop.  Some prefer to know exactly what they are getting in each food share.  With CSAs you likely have an idea of what is in season but you don’t know your exact share and variety until you pick up your food box.

CSA from Pine View Farms (Saskatoon, SK – Canada)

This is my first time buying into a CSA and I have to say I am very excited.  The reason I chose to participate is because we love fresh garden produce but currently do not have the space to maintain a garden of our own.  We frequent the local Farmers’ Market during the summer months but find that it is not always affordable.  Understandably so, as small-scale (and even larger-scale) farmers must make a considerable profit to pay for their market stalls, travel, overhead, etc.  The quality of locally grown produce is much better but I was beginning to think that we wouldn’t be able to sustain our healthy appetites for natural produce with the Farmers’ Market alone.

That’s where Pine View Farms CSA comes in.  A farm providing locally-grown all natural meats year round and also produce during the summer growing months.

With just two of us in the house, we decided to start out with just the ‘Small Share’ package.  The shares are ready to go every two weeks.

In speaking with the staff at Pine View they gave a sample of what to expect in a small share every two weeks.

A sample share in the peak of summer:

  • 2lb bundle of carrots
  • 2 lb bundle of beets
  • a bag of lettuce, a bag of spinach
  • 1 lb bag of beans
  • 1 lb bag of peas
  • 1 lb of tomatoes
  • 2 zucchini
  • 4 ears of corn
  • a half pint of wild blueberries

A sample share in the leaner months (before and after peak season):

  • 1 bag of spinach
  • 1 bag of kale
  • 1 bag of greens
  • 1 bag of swiss chard
  • bundle of radishes
  • half pint of strawberries
  • a fresh herb mix

That’s just an example obviously, and depending on weather conditions and pests, things could change.  That’s what CSA is all about.  With all the months combined, it averages out to about 8 ‘units’ per week from June – September.

The small share is just $300 for the season.  I think that is reasonable.

What I love is that I’m getting what’s in season, fresh from the farm.  I am excited to pick up my food box every two weeks right at the farm.

I have high hopes that by next year I’ll have a space large enough to hold my own garden and start to learn the in’s and out’s of growing my own produce in this part of the world.  Until then, for me, CSA is the way to go.  I’ll keep you posted about my experiences as the food begins to arrive starting June 17th!

[Source Information: Wikipedia]

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Subscribe and Follow

Connect with me on any of my social profiles below or enter your email address to subscribe via email.

3 Responses to “Eat Well with Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)”

  1. Tayla
    June 22, 2011 at 9:11 pm #

    That is so wonderful! My husband and I bought the $300 package as well and our first pick-up is friday! Im so excited! Thanks for your input!

    • Megan
      June 23, 2011 at 9:58 am #

      You’ll be happy with it for sure! There was much more produce than I expected for the first pickup and so early in the season. Can’t wait to see what we get in the peak months! Enjoy.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Getting Dirty: Chronicles of A Rookie Gardener | The Gluten Free Vegan - March 23, 2012

    [...] time though I have real motivation for it. The CSA program we were looking forward to buying into again this year has been cancelled. I nearly cried when I [...]

Leave a Reply