CSA - Community Supported Agriculture
In general, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) consists of a
community of individuals or families who pledge support to a farm, with
the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the
risks and benefits of food production.
Typically, members or "shareholders" of the farm pledge in advance to
cover the anticipated costs of the farm operation and farmer's salary. In
return, they receive shares in the farm's bounty throughout the growing
season, as well as satisfaction gained from reconnecting to the land and
participating directly in food production.
Members also share in the risks of farming, including
poor harvests due to unfavorable weather or pests.
By direct sales to community members, who have
provided the farmer with working capital in advance,
growers receive better prices for their crops, gain
some financial security, and are relieved of much of
the burden of marketing.
- Adapted from the Alternative Farming Systems
A Quick Look at CSAs
- CSA's direct marketing gives farmers the fairest return on their products.
- CSA keeps food dollars in the local community and contributes to the maintenance and establishment of
regional food production.
- CSA encourages communication and cooperation among farmers.
- With a "guaranteed market" for their produce, farmers can invest their time in doing the best job they can
rather than looking for buyers.
- CSA supports the biodiversity of a given area and the diversity of agriculture through the preservation of small
farms producing a wide variety of crops.
- CSA creates opportunity for dialogue between farmers and consumers.
- CSA creates a sense of social responsibility and stewardship of local land.
- CSA puts "the farmer's face on food" and increases understanding of how, where, and by whom our food is
CSA is a partnership of mutual commitment between a farm and a community of supporters which provides a direct link
between the production and consumption of food. Supporters cover a farm's yearly operating budget by purchasing a
share of the season's harvest. CSA members make a commitment to support the farm throughout the season, and
assume the costs, risks and bounty of growing food along with the farmer. Members help pay for seeds, fertilizer,
water, equipment maintenance, labor, etc. In return, the farm provides, to the best of its ability, a healthy supply of
seasonal fresh produce throughout the growing season. Becoming a member creates a responsible relationship
between people and the food they eat, the land on which it is grown and those who grow it.
This mutually supportive relationship between local farmers, growers and community members helps create an
economically stable farm operation in which members are assured the highest quality produce, often at below retail
prices. In return, farmers and growers are guaranteed a reliable market for a diverse selection of crops.
- Adapted from Community Supported Agriculture of North America at University of Massachusetts Extension, "What is
Community Supported Agriculture and How Does It Work?"