CSA stands for “community supported agriculture,” which is a direct-to-customer business model for farmers.
In place of getting produce which may be a week old or more, grown hundreds of miles or more away, transported in trucks, refrigerated already, grown in poor soil with pesticides etc. – you get fresh, locally grown, usually organic or mainly naturally grown produce at a bargain price.
The way that the traditional CSA model works is that people pay for a season’s worth of produce (a membership) sometimes months in advance.
The CSA member then receives a box of fruits and vegetables every week all through the harvesting season.
This is great for the farmers because they get funding to grow their crops when they most need it most. Instead of needing to take out loans to get ready for the growing season, their members fund them.
In turn, they look out for their customers needs which are oftentimes health oriented. This means that the food they grow is usually better quality, if not completely organic. Plus, you know it is fresh, hasn’t been sitting around and is in the peak of its season which is the best time to eat the produce.
Today, there are many different ways to manage and be part of a CSA.
CSA shares (the weekly delivery) come in different sizes. You can buy a half-share or whole share.
They also vary in frequency. Many are weekly. Some are bi-weekly. This can accommodate different household preferences.
Some farmers offer additional products like eggs, freshly made bread or even flowers.
In some models, the member can pick and choose what she wants in the box each week. Some may even deliver.
Some CSAs more closely resemble buying clubs. The members pay every month until they cancel. There are even CSFs (community-supported fisheries) that use the CSA model to support their fisheries.
The best way to find a CSA is to google CSA’s in your area and a list will pop up. For example, here is the google for “CSA’s in the Philadelphia area”
As you can see a list from Local Harvest pops up. There are 42 CSA’s in the Philadelphia area listed. This site gives you a description of how each works and a star rating as well.
Here is a description of the Honey Brook Organic Farm in Pennington, NJ:
The listing also tell you if the CSA offers home delivery or you pick up on site or at a local drop.
You also get a little history and background on the farm itself. Plus, you can find out where they are located and if their memberships are still open. The cost of the membership. If work is required or not. Some of the vegetables and other goods they offer and if they are organic or not and a lot more.
If you are interested in this alternative, better move quickly. They tend to fill up fast as the harvest season approaches and may be closed by the time you try to apply.
Take advantage of this. You support local farmers. You get good food. You support the local ecology while striking a blow against factory farms. If natural health is your passion, then this is a good deal for you. But, ya better move fast!
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