CSA:Community Supported Agriculture

By: Katie Burdick

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How did it begin?

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) came over to the United States in the 1980s. Although community farms were in place in Japan and Chile in the 1970s, the main ideas of American CSAs came from 1920s Europe and their biodynamic agricultural tradition. In 1986, Indian Line Farm in Massachusetts and Temple-Wilton Community Farm in New Hampshire became the first farms who supported Community Supported Agriculture in the US (McFadden, 2004). Now, Community Supported Agriculture is a popular way for consumers to buy fresh, seasonal, local food directly from the farmer.

How it Works

The CSAs include three main groups: the farmers, the core group administrators, and the consumers. The farmers do the field work making their gardens/farms, growing the crops, and later harvesting the crops. The core group is responsible for collecting payments, managing the budget, paying the farmers, dealing with legal issues, and food distribution. The consumers buy "shares" (membership or subscription) to support the farm financially and make sure that all of the food is purchased and consumed (Briggs, 2013). The shares are usually paid annually and the produce is supplied weekly or biweekly at drop off locations.

  • Subscriptions start running from May until October or November. This ensures the farmers have a market for their crops ("CSA Organic Agriculture," 2013).

  • 15 week shares in Atlanta range from $360-$450 and 30 week shares range from $650-$810 (Davis, 2013).

  • Products usually include fruits and vegetables. Some farms also provide meats and eggs.
Q: What's a CSA? A: Community Supported Agriculture

Benefits for Farmers

  • Farmers spend time in the winter marketing their food before they have to work in the field for 16 hour days.
  • They receive payments early in the season which helps them buy materials needed for farming.
  • Farmers get to know the people who invest in their crops (Barnett, n.d.)
  • Some farmers are able to donate extra foods to local food banks.
  • Pollution is minimal due to lack of pesticides, herbicides, and artificial fertilizers.
  • Farmers harvest only enough food for consumers picking up that day, so very little food is wasted (Briggs, 2013).
  • Shared risk with consumers so if crops are minimal or damaged due to extreme weather, the CSA members are "in this together" (Barnett, n.d.).
  • Good for the environment due to reduced transportation costs (no warehouses) and reduced emissions ("CSAs Organic Agriculture," 2013).

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Benefits for Consumers

  • Families eat fresh, organic food with lots of flavor and vitamins.
  • Consumers learn to cook with new types of vegetables.
  • Consumers learn more about how their foods are grown by developing a relationship with their farmer.
  • Families get to visit the farm where their food is being grown (Barnett, n.d.).
  • Organic foods are affordably priced.
  • Emissions from cars are reduced since the foods are coming directly from the local farm ("CSAs Organic Agriculture," 2013).

Local CSA

Local Food Stop is located inside the Natural Foods Warehouse in Johns Creek, Georgia (Laramee, n.d.). All deliveries are on Wednesdays. Some items included for August 28, 2013 menu are peaches, yellow squash, zucchini, eggplant, kale, sweet potatoes, heirloom tomatoes, spring mixed lettuce, bibb lettuce, and romaine lettuce. All of these items are organic and grown locally. About 20 farms participate in this local CSA. Mini-bags to large bags range in price from $23-$43 per bag plus tax. They also sell extra farm items such as blueberries, strawberries, honey, olive oil,various flavored jams, grits, cornmeal and roasted coffee.


Barnett, E. (n.d.). Community Supported Agriculture. Local Harvest. Retrieved August 27, 2013, from http://www.localharvest.org/csa

Briggs, R. (2013). Community Supported Agriculture: An Introduction to CSA. Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association. Retrieved August 27, 2013, from https://www.biodynamics.com/content/community-supported-agriculture-introduction-csa

CSAs Organic Agriculture Information. (2013). Organic Agriculture Information. Retrieved August 27, 2013, from http://www.organicaginfo.org/csas-Georgia

Davis,T. (2013, June 3). Our CSA. Atlanta CSA Georgia Community Supported Agriculture. Retrieved August 27, 2013, from http://habitatfarms.com/atlanta-csa

Laramee, A. (n.d.) Community Supported Agriculture That Works For You! Local Food Stop. Retrieved August 27, 2013 from http://wwwstagelocalfoodstop.com

Lukats, P. (2010). What is CSA. Just Food. Retrieved August 27, 2013, from http://www.justfood.org/csa

McFadden, S. (2004). The History of Community Supported Agriculture, Part 1. Rodale Institute. Retrieved August 29, 2013, from http://newfarm.rodalinstitute.org/features/0104/csa-history/part1.shtml

USDA Community Supported Agriculture. (n.d.). USDA National Agriculture Library. Retrieved August 30, 2013, from http://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/pubs/csa.shi

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