The consumer (you) wanting good quality, safe food pay the farmer a one-time fee (or share) prior to the start of growing season. This fee is determined by seed cost, equipment maintenance, property fees, tools, salaries, distribution costs, etc. In return, you receive weekly food boxes either by delivery or at a pick-up location near you. A full share may feed a family of 4 in produce for a week, where a half share may feed 2-3. Each farm’s shares are different in size and cost. This type of program greatly reduces the waste involved in blindly growing food for an indeterminate number of people.
YOU, the consumer, support the local farmer. The local farmer supports the local economy by their local purchases, hiring locally, etc. Thus supporting your local CSA farmer causes a CASCADE EFFECT for the local community. This approach also helps the environment!

The more local products that are purchased, the fewer products are needed to be shipped to the community, thus reducing harmful emissions from transport carriers.

Every CSA is UNIQUE. The crops grown, the size of the shares, arrangements for receiving the weekly boxes of produce and/or meats, length of season, number of seasons and share costs vary from farm to farm. Contact the farms in your area directly for their specific membership information.

While you enjoy your weekly share of the fresh, local, farm-raised food, you must also share in the lack of food should there be a drought, flood, pest problem or other issue that reduces the amount or quality of the food. You become one with the farmer in understanding and dealing with the ways of nature.

Most CSAs grow organic food and provide a diversity of vegetables and herbs in season. Some farms also offer eggs and meat either as the CSA share itself or purchased separately. In general, CSA farmers are dedicated in using the land in a manner that will not deplete its nutrients or value for generations to come. HEALTHY soil produces healthy food.

HOW DO I JOIN A CSA FARM?
THE HISTORY OF CSA FARMS
img61) Locate CSA farms in your area. Ensure that you find farmers that have pick-up locations easily accessible to you. If you have to drive 100km to get your food every week, it will increase your gas consumption and would not be convenient nor would it be the whole point of CSA farms.

2) Once you’ve found CSA farms in your area, view their websites for details. If they don’t have a website, email them or call them. See some sample questions below.

3) After you have the details of local farms, you have contacted the farmers, visited the farms, etc you can decide which one you want to join. Simply contact them and tell them of your intentions. They will guide you from there.

img7There are different versions regarding the conception of CSA farms. However, the stories do concur on the location and people involved with the first North American CSAs. This was retrieved from the website of Indian Line Farm which is one of the two original CSA farms in North America.In the 1920’s, Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian, developed the concept of CSA and it took shape in Europe throughout the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. In 1986, two farms in the USA (Indian Line Farm in Massachusetts and Temple-Wilton Community Farm in New Hampshire) completely independent from each other, adopted the ideas, forming the first CSAs. Since then, the CSA movement has been constantly growing and evolving.

CSA FARMING is a WIN-WIN situation:
for the farmer, the consumer and the land

SAMPLE QUESTIONS TO ASK CSA FARMERS:

  • How exactly does their CSA work?
    (Every CSA is different, offering different produce,
    pricing and payment methods. Find out the rules, length of season, extra offerings, etc)
  • Where do you pick up the produce?
    (This could be near work, near home or on the farm directly – some farmers may offer choices of pick-up locations and accomodate you if they can)
  • Can you visit the farm throughout the season?
    (Farmers should have no objection to you visiting the farm, however they will probably request that you call ahead to ensure they know to be available at that time. Be aware of any farmer who refuses any farm visits at all – they should have nothing to hide.)
  • Can you help out on the farm in exchange for a reduced share rate?
    (Keep in mind, you’ll probably be required to be at the farm once a week for a few hours but this varies from CSA to CSA)
  • Get a list of produce for a typical half-share or full-share for different months of the season that they had last year.
    (This is good to have so you have an idea of what you’ll get (barring weather and bug problems) as well as a testimony from the farmer of what he/she offers)
  • Talk to others who have participated in the CSA you’re looking at.
    (Get their opinions. Check the farmer’s website. Go to the pick-up locations and talk with the people picking up their shares. This helps ensure the farm is a good fit for you. )
  • Ask if there’s a pre-season meeting and go to it
    (This is a great way to find out more information as well as talk with others who participate in the CSA)