Community-supported agriculture (CSA) is a way for consumers to support their local farmers directly by purchasing a share at the beginning of the season. A share is essentially a weekly membership or subscription. Typically each week of the season members get a box of fresh produce direct from the farm. Some CSAs deliver. Others have local pick-up locations on a certain day(s) of the week. Some CSAs offer optional add-ons like dairy, meat, honey and other provisions. Many CSAs these days include or send an email newsletter with suggested recipes using the produce from that given week. If you’re worried about how much produce you’ll get each week and/or think you might not be able to use it all, consider splitting a share with another family or a few friends.
Benefits of CSA:
- The freshest, best tasting produce you can imagine.
- You’ll develop a relationship with and directly support a local farmer. Paying the farmer up front at the beginning of the season greatly helps with the farm’s cash flow. For better or worse, you are investing in the farm. If you’ve ever worked on a farm, you know how long the days are and how laborious the work is. To be able to support people doing this work everyday is a beautiful thing. With a CSA, there is a level of shared risk, which means farmers do their best to have an abundance of vegetables each season, but if a crop fails or something unexpected happens, members are not reimbursed. CSAs are really all about community and the idea that “we’re all in it together.”
- Exposes you to new and different varieties of vegetables that you wouldn’t normally buy at the store. A great way to expand your knowledge and challenge you in the kitchen.
- You know exactly where your food is coming from. Lots of farms even have a CSA day where you have the opportunity to visit the farm.
- Saves you money. If you normally buy organic produce at the store or farmer’s market, joining a CSA will save you money.
- Saves you time, as you won’t have to worry about picking out produce at the store.
I’ve been part of a CSA for the past 4 years. It’s been an incredible way to connect with local farmers and to receive the most amazing, delicious and beautiful produce. I absolutely love receiving my basket each week and feeling surprised and delighted with what’s inside. It’s a fun challenge to cook with veggies I’m not used to buying. Pushes me outside my comfort zone and adds variety to my everyday routine.
Last year and this year, we’re part of the Helsing Junction Farm CSA. I’ve absolutely loved being a member. They deliver to my doorstep, which makes it SO easy, and all of the produce has been amazing. Last year we received both a large CSA share and a flower CSA share (yes, fresh flowers delivered to my doorstep!). Helsing Junction is offering all of you in the Pacific Northwest (yes, Oregon AND Washington!) $20 off any CSA subscription with code: WuHausCSA18 .
I’ve also been a member of Tumbleweed Farm and Working Hands Farm CSAs in past years and highly recommend both if you are in the Portland area. No matter where you are, lots of communities have CSA programs in place. Local Harvest is an amazing resource for learning about and finding CSAs in your area. Farmer’s markets are a great alternative option if you can’t find a CSA in your area. I also love what Imperfect Produce is doing. Below are some photos from Helsing Junction of the types of produce and flowers in their shares in the middle of the summer season.