Community Supported Agriculture

By: Marilyn Dunbar

What is Community Supported Agriculture?

Community Supported Agriculture is where a community pledges to support local farms so that the farmland becomes that community's farm. The members that partake in the community farm are called "share-holders," meaning that they will cover the costs of the farm(s) and the salary of the farmer(s); in return, the patrons receive a share of the crop throughout the growing season.

History of Community Supported Agriculture:

The first idea of Community Supported Agriculture sprouted in Japan and Europe in the 1960s, but through different means. In Japan, the idea of the community supported agriculture was promoted by food scares, which led to people wanting natural and certified organic foods. On the other hand, in Europe, the idea did not begin from concerns over food production, but began as a form of bio-dynamic farming. The idea of bio-dynamic farming was developed by Rudolph Steiner, where the idea is based on the concept that all living things are dependent upon one another.

Then Jan Vander Tuin brought the idea of a community supported agriculture to North America by introducing the concept to Robyn Van En at the Indian Line Farm in Massachusetts. In 1986, the Indian Line Farm in Massachusetts and the Temple-Wilton Community Farm in New Hampshire were established and became the beginnings of the community supported agriculture in North America.


Today, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there were a total of 12,617 farms in the United States that were marketing through CSAs in 2012; which was a 0.5% increase from the amount in 2007.

The Benefits and Risks:

Benefits of Community Supported Agriculture:

  • Supports local farmers
  • Provides a way of eating well and being healthy
  • Protects the environment by lessening the carbon footprint of how far the produce must travel

Risks of Community Supported Agriculture:

  • There's always a chance of a poor crop yield or failure due to horrible weather or pests

Resources:

Community Supported Agriculture. (2014, December 12). Retrieved from United States Department of Agriculture: National Agricultural Library: http://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/pubs/csa/csa.shtml

DeMuth, S. (1993, September). Defining Community Supported Agriculture. Retrieved from United States Department of Agriculture: National Agricultural Library: http://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/pubs/csa/csadef.shtml

Why Join a CSA? (n.d.). Retrieved from Just Food: http://www.justfood.org/csa/why-join-csa