• By Mary Jac Brennan
  • Posted Sunday, March 10, 2019

Community Supported Agriculture-Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food

CSA stands for community supported agriculture. It is a way for people to purchase locally grown products direct from small farmers. Direct buying from a farmer is a wonderful way to support our local farmers and our food shed. CSA (community-supported agriculture) is a subscription to a season’s worth of sustainable, locally grown produce that is distributed to members throughout the harvesting season. It is a form of investment that allows small farmers to continue growing on a scale that may not be sustainable without the CSA model. CSA members enjoy the quality of fresh fruits and vegetables for their family, while supporting their local farmer. It usually involves subscribing to a seasonal plan where the consumer receives a box with 10-20 pounds of locally grown fruit and vegetables from the farmer on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. It’s a great way to eat seasonally and support our local farmers.

Getting food from a CSA is different from going to a farmers market or using a grocery delivery service. As a CSA member, you make a seasonal commitment to a small farmer in your area, and the produce is either delivered to your door or you pick it up at a local distribution center. CSA members take pleasure in knowing where and how their food is grown, and typically have an open line of communication with their farmer. Some CSA programs require upfront investment so that the farmer can buy seeds and inputs for growing or producing the farm product. Other CSA programs offer weekly purchasing, without any investment. A variety of farm products are sold via CSA. Freshness and quality of product, as well as having a connection to and support for local farms are reasons consumers participate in CSAs.

“Community-supported agriculture is all about relationships and feeding families,” said Simon Huntley, CEO of Small Farm Central, a company that provides marketing support for small farms and started CSA Day. “CSA farmers typically teach members what’s in season throughout the year, and help them appreciate and cook food to which they may not otherwise be exposed.”

For a list of local farms offering CSA programs for 2019 click here.

For more information about Community Supported Agriculture or local food farming, contact Mary Jac Brennan, Extension Agent Horticulture for Small Farms and Local Food, at 336-703-2869 or maryjac_brennan@ncsu.edu.

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