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

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