This article was originally published on CustomMade.com.
Community Supported Agriculture is having its moment. Across the country, more and more people are signing up for farm shares, looking to benefit from a sense of community, healthier environments, and fresh, wholesome food. But despite its increasing popularity, community supported agriculture is still hardly a common term at every dinner table.
If you’ve been wondering what a community supported agriculture membership is or whether you should join one, or if you’ve already joined and want to know how to get the most from your weekly share, this guide will help you discover the ins and outs of CSAs and how to make a membership work best for you.
What is Community Supported Agriculture?
Community supported agriculture (CSA) allows people to purchase seasonal produce directly from a local farmer. The farm offers a certain number of “shares” to the public and commits to grow food for participating members. In turn, community members agree to support the farm through financial contributions, which are typically paid up-front before the growing season. Membership dues help to pay for seeds and plants, greenhouse expenses, equipment, labor, and other items related to the workings of the farm. Members then receive a weekly or bi-weekly share of the farm’s harvest—essentially, the community members become shareholders of the farm. To date, tens of thousands of families have joined more than 4,000 CSAs across the U.S.
The benefits of CSAs are numerous. CSAs promote sustainable land management and farming practices, reduce participating members’ food transportation needs, support local commerce, provide farmers with financial security, offer consumers access to healthy, fresh food, and allow communities to build mutually supportive relationships.