If you’ve eaten locally grown produce, you’ll know that it tastes much more flavourful and fresher than anything that has been imported to the grocery store. This is due to the fact that local produce is not picked before it is ripe, it travels short distances, and many local farms forgo the use of harmful pesticides and herbicides. How can you go about obtaining local produce? While farmer’s markets and growing your own fruits and vegetables are always an option, you may want to look into local farms that offer Community Supported Agriculture programs!
What is Community Supported Agriculture?
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a process that involves farms growing and distributing their healthy and nutritious produce, which is often organic, to members of the community. Community members are able to select a CSA farm of their choice and pay for a “share” at the beginning of the growing season. These funds go towards the equipment, materials, and labour that are required during the growing season in order to produce great quality fruits and vegetables! Your CSA farm will produce a variety of vegetables, fruits, herbs and possibly even meat throughout the growing season and deliver a box full of harvested goods straight to your home or at a pick-up location on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Depending on the specific farm you subscribe to, you may find yourself receiving all kinds of different produce as the season changes. This could be a great opportunity to try out some new locally grown foods!
CSA programs allow you to support families within your community and keep your money within the local economy. By purchasing “shares” from a farm, the shareholder shares any risk with the farmer, therefore making growing more favourable for small producers. CSA farmers are guaranteed the sale of their crops which allows them to plan out how many crops they will need in order to meet their demand. This shared risk comes in handy when crops don’t do as well as anticipated or are wiped out by natural events such as hailstorms. On the other hand, when crops flourish, shareholders reap the benefits.
Being a part of a CSA program allows consumers to connect with their food. There is a good chance you will be able to visit your CSA farm and speak directly with the farmers. This enables you to learn about the methods used to grow and harvest the produce you receive, receive tips on how to make use of the produce, and foster important community connections, all while reducing the distance that your food travels - which is great for the environment.
Differences from farm to farm
Keep in mind that each farmer will run their CSA differently. Some may give consumers an option of what produce they want included in their package, while others may not. You might also be able to choose the number of packages you receive as well as what size of package. These factors will determine the cost of your subscription. When it comes to payment, some CSA’s ask their shareholders to spend some time helping out on the farm each season as a form of payment, while others just use cash. Look around to find a CSA near you that suits your needs and preferences!
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