What is Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)?
The following information on Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) was provided from Small Farm Research & Education Center (SFREC) based at Silver Creek Farm, an organic diversified 75-acre farm in Hiram.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a partnership of mutual commitment between a farm and a community of supporters that provides a direct link between production and consumption of food. Consumers become members who share in the responsibility and risk involved in growing their food. Typically, members purchase a "share" of the upcoming harvest in the spring of the year.
This money allows the farmer to cover the costs of production and links the member to the risk and reward of growing food in an organic climate. In exchange, a member receives a boxfull of the weekly share of produce (fruits, veggies, herbs) from the farm. Silver Creek, like most CSAs. has add-on shares such as a cheese or yarn shares. Generally, a share feeds 2-4 people. Single folks have been known to split their shares with couples or a couple of friends. Drop off points are determined by In Northeast Ohio, the growing period of the CSA usually lasts about 22 weeks.
CSA farms embody a committment to build a more sustainable and equitable local agriculture system, and, therefore, are organic and biodynamic. Silver Creek Farm's CSA, for example, serves 65 to 100 members each year. Shareholders have the opportunity to participate on several levels. Some are selected as "working core" members, which means in exchange for a reduced seasonal cost, they committ to work at the farm during the growing season (CSA at Crown Pointe in Bath costs $385 for working members; $485 for non-working).
The working core member become intensely involved in the production of their food by planting, weeding, harvesting, washing and packing for the CSA. Non working-core members volunteer to host a drop-off site, deliver food, attend potluck dinner and other farm events.
The concept of CSA originated in the 1960s in Japan and Switzerland. Consumers interested in safe (i.e., pesticide and chemical free) food and farmers interested in stable markets for their products formed a partnership of mutual support. By the mid-1980s, the concept was introduced in the U.S. and a the number of CSA has increased steadily. Currently, there are approximately 1000 CSA programs in the U.S. and Canada.
Some of the inherent benefits of becoming a shareholder in a CSA include:
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Coummunity Supported Agriculture resource list for Northeast Ohio