What is Community Supported Agriculture all about?

As more consumers seek locally grown and produced foods, Community Supported Agriculture subscriptions or CSAs have begun to grow in popularity.

Through a CSA subscription, individuals become “shareholders” in a local farm or group of farms. For their upfront investment, subscribers are provided regularly scheduled baskets, boxes or bags filled with the farm’s bounty during the growing season. Items could include fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and eggs. Some CSAs offer home delivery, but most designate a regular weekly pick-up spot, such as a local farmer’s market.

However, being a shareholder also means sharing the farmer’s risk that some crops could do poorly due to pests or bad weather, and members pay the same whether it’s a bumper or bust year for crops. In some cases, being a shareholder could also include working around the farm for a few hours, but that’s not typical with most CSAs.

Before jumping on the CSA bandwagon, the Local Harvest website recommends considering the following questions:
Do you like to cook and do you have time to prepare homemade meals?
Do you think its fun to try new vegetables and fruits?
How will you handle excess produce?
Are you willing to accept the risks associated with being a shareholder?

If you decide to sign up for a CSA, it’s important to do your research. Many farms around Ohio offer CSAs and several are featured on a list from Our Ohio.

Before selecting a CSA, here are some questions you should ask the farmer or representative before subscribing:
What type of produce do you grow?
Do you purchase produce from other farmers or growers?
What else might be included in my CSA delivery?
Where and when do I pick up? Do you deliver?
What happens if I’m on vacation?
Does the CSA offer storing and cooking instructions?
What is the farmer’s background and training?
Do you have references or testimonials to share?

Do you or are you planning to subscribe to a CSA this year? If yes, please share your experience with me.

Photo obtained from: www.njfamily.com

Commodity Classic Brings Farmers Together

For farmers who want to be in-the-know about agriculture trends, issues and the future of farming, Commodity Classic, America’s largest farmer-led, farmer focused convention and trade show, is the event to attend.

The Commodity Classic website describes the three-day experience as a can't-miss event for America's soybean, corn, wheat and sorghum farmers. It provides farmers with an opportunity to see the latest farming innovations first-hand, hear game-changing ideas from the people who created them and meet growers and ag leaders from across the nation.

An annual event, Commodity Classic is presented by the National Corn Growers Association, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers and National Sorghum Producers.

This year’s convention and trade show recently took place in Kissimmee, Florida, and proved to be very successful with record attendance totaling more than 6,000, including a record number of more than 3,000 corn, soybean, wheat and sorghum growers.

Farmers in attendance were offered a wide range of learning and networking opportunities in the areas of production, policy, marketing, management and stewardship.

There was even an opportunity for Ohio farmers to share their thoughts about how they plan to manage their risk in 2013. Watch this Ohio’s Country Journal interview to see what farmers near you are saying.

And, for the fourth time, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack spoke to attendees, this time encouraging farmers to continue pushing Congress for a five-year Farm Bill.

If you missed this year’s Commodity Classic, don’t worry. It will be taking place again next year from February 27 to March 1 in San Antonio, Texas.

Did you attend Commodity Classic this year or have you gone in the past? If so, what have you learned from the event? Would you recommend it to another farmer?

Photo obtained from: www.agweb.com