CSA is a unique social and economic arrangement between local households and farmers who work together to share the responsibility of producing and delivering fresh food. Households support the farm by paying an annual fee in the winter or spring that entitles them to a “share” of the season’s harvest. Once harvesting begins, members pick-up a weekly box of fresh foods which may include produce, fruits, cheeses, eggs, meats, poultry, flowers, herbs or preserves. Pick-up sites are often located at a member’s house or at the farm. Most farms create a newsletter that accompanies each delivery with notes about farm activities, descriptions of what’s in the delivery, cooking tips and recipes. Many farms also create opportunities for their members and families to visit the farm and participate in farm events. The typical CSA season in Wisconsin runs from the end of May through mid-October. Farms offer a diversity of share options including extended season shares, multiple share types and sizes, and special funds and payment plans to accommodate households on a tight budget. CSA farmers use sustainable and organic methods to produce high quality to reduce the impact of agriculture on the environment.
Benefits of Community Supported Agriculture
CSA members, farmers, and local communities all benefit from this arrangement. CSA’s
• provide households with fresh foods picked at the peak of ripeness and nutritional value
• guarantee the farmer will have the income to cover the costs of growing food
• provide opportunities for families to learn where food comes from by participating farm
• ensure the viability of local, environmentally sustainable family farms
• create a stronger local economy by keeping local dollars circulating in the community
• protect the environment through stewardship of the land
• preserve economically viable, working open spaces
• build connections between urban and rural communities
How does Community Supported Agriculture work?
A CSA member purchases a “share” of each season’s produce. One share is generally enough to feed a household of four or more. Half or partial shares are often available as well. The food is distributed weekly through centrally located drop-off points or through farm pick-up. The cost of a share varies from farm to farm. In general, food received is more economical or comparable in cost to local organic produce found at farmers’ markets and retail stores.