Community-supported agriculture

Fresh veggies from the farm

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About the project Edit

Community-supported agriculture (CSA) is a socio-economic model of agriculture and food distribution. A CSA consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation where the growers and consumers share the risks and benefits of food production. CSAs usually consist of a system of weekly delivery or pick-up of vegetables and fruit in a vegetable box scheme, sometimes including dairy products and meat.

CSAs are different from buying clubs and home delivery services, where the consumer buys a specific product at a predetermined price. CSA members purchase only what the farm is able to successfully grow and harvest, sharing some of the growing risk with the farmer. If the strawberry crop is not successful, for example, the CSA member will share the burden of the crop failure by receiving fewer or lower quality strawberries for the season. CSA members are often more actively involved in the growing and distribution process, through shared newsletters and recipes, farm visits, farm work-days, advance purchases of shares, and picking up their shares.

In what ways is this project unique and creative? Edit

CSAs generally focus on the production of high quality foods for a local community, often using organic or biodynamic farming methods, and a shared risk membership/marketing structure. This kind of farming operates with a much greater than usual degree of involvement of consumers and other stakeholders — resulting in a stronger than usual consumer-producer relationship. The core design includes developing a cohesive consumer group that is willing to fund a whole season’s budget in order to get quality foods. The system has many variations on how the farm budget is supported by the consumers and how the producers then deliver the foods. By CSA theory, the more a farm embraces whole-farm, whole-budget support, the more it can focus on quality and reduce the risk of food waste or financial loss.

What is the social value of this project? Edit

An advantage of the close consumer-producer relationship is increased freshness of the produce, because it does not have to be shipped long distances. The close proximity of the farm to the members also helps the environment by reducing pollution caused by transporting the produce. CSAs often include recipes and farm news in each box. Tours of the farm and work days are announced. Over a period of time, consumers get to know who is producing their food, and what production methods are used.

What is the potential of this project to expand and develop? Edit

Community-supported agriculture began in the early 1960s in Germany, Switzerland, and Japan as a response to concerns about food safety and the urbanization of agricultural land. Groups of consumers and farmers in Europe formed cooperative partnerships to fund farming and pay the full costs of ecologically sound and socially equitable agriculture. The idea took root in the United States in 1984 and since that time, community supported farms have been organized throughout North America, mainly in the Northeast, the Pacific coast, the Upper-Midwest, and Canada.

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