Community Supported Agriculture

Local Based Agricultural Economies

What is a CSA?

In the last two decades Community Supported Agriculture Systems have become a source where a growing number of consumers turn to obtain their household's necessary produce (Local Harvest, 2012). CSAs have become an integral connection between farmers and consumers at the local level (Local Harvest). A CSA can be distinguished by primarily three features: promotion of local grown produce and products, sale of shares during or before the growing season, and a weekly delivery system to customers in the area (Lizio & Lass, 2005).

A share is essentially a membership fee pad for by the consumer in order to obtain a subscription of a particular selection of vegetables. This "subscription" of produce is usually shipped weekly, assuring customers of quality and freshness (Local Harvest).

Although there is no fixed count on the number of CSAs in the United States, projections estimate the number to be greater than 4000 (Local Harvest).


A CSA has many benefits for both farmers and consumers. In fact the concept originated in Japan during the 1960s just for that: to reduce processed foods and to prevent the loss of farms and farmers (North Carolina State University, 2012).

The CSA concept originated in Japan in the 1960s by a group of women concerned with the use of pesticides, the increase in processed and imported food, and the loss of farmers and farmland.

For farmers, CSAs provide a way to earn more money before the growing season, as they have an open window during when they are able to capture consumers. Nearly 63 percent of the CSA farms had a gross farm income that was more than $20,000 in contrast to only 38.5% of Agricultural Census farms that were classified similarly (Lass, Bevis, Stevenson, Hendrickson, & Ruhf, 2001). In addition to an added income, CSAs also help farmers to interact with customers at a personal level, leading to greater rapport in the buy sell relationship and greater product improvement (Local Harvest).

For consumers, CSAs serve as a way to explore the way a farm works and how crops and produce is made. Consumers are also given the choice of eating fresh foods that are rich in various vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Consumers are also given the opportunity to develop a personal relationship with a farmer, leading to greater understanding of both the farming year and the life of a crop (Local Harvest).


Lizio & Lass. (2005). CSA 2001: An Evolving Platform for Ecological and Economical Agricultural Marketing and Production. CSA 2001.


Lass, Bevis, Stevenson, Hendrickson, & Ruhf. (2001). Community Supported Agriculture Entering the 21st Century: Results from the 2001 National Survey. 2001 National Survey.


LocalHarvest. (2012). Community Supported Agriculture. Retrieved from

North Carolina State University. (2012). Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Resource Guide for Farmers. Retrieved from