Community Supported Agriculture

How CSA benefits farms and the communities around them

What is CSA?

Community supported agriculture enables consumers who live near small farms to support local agriculture by signing up for a season-long plan in which they pay an upfront fee to receive crops throughout the growing season (Community supported n.d.).

Photo (Davis, 2013)

Benefits to Farmers

Community supported agriculture programs normally require that the buyer pay the farmer for their share before the growing season beings, allowing the farmer to make a profit before the harvest, thus providing a safety net from economic failure if the crop fails. This provides an incentive to farmers to grow quality crops each year so that consumers continue to purchase shares in the farm, and the business can thrive. (Community supported, n.d.) Also, by selling locally, farmers are able to cut down on the fuel used to transport produce over long distances to be sold. This reduces carbon emissions and helps keep the environment healthy so crops can continue to be grown. (Local and regional, 2013)




Benefits to Consumers

A large percent of people who purchase produce do not know where the food has come from, nor who grew it. As a member of a CSA, consumers get the chance to have a personal connection to the farmer, and understand more about where the food they eat originated. This can make the CSA shareholder more comfortable about the produce they are buying as they can see a direct connection between it being grown and then eaten. Also, fresh produce is often proclaimed to taste better than its frozen counterpart, another advantage that many consumers take into consideration when deciding to join a CSA. (Local and regional, 2013)

As the graph below details, many farmers surveyed in 2011 by the US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance believe that the average consumer does not know much about modern farming. By joining a CSA, consumers become more aware of how farming works in today's world, and how their local farmers make a living.



Graph (Food dialogues, 2011)


Effects

As the number of CSA farms across the United States continues to grow, those who participate in them are receiving an invaluable opportunity to connect with the people who grow their food, and see the connection between food and land. By supporting local farmers, CSA shareholders support their local economies, and help keep the legacy of small farms alive.