Did you know the average American meal travels 1,500 miles from farm to plate? This generates a substantial amount of carbon dioxide emissions.
When you make an effort to support local farmers by joining a cooperative called Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), you are not only significantly reducing the carbon footprint that your food creates, but the community and local economy will be strengthened and food will be traceable.
This is just one of the many reasons you may want to consider a CSA for your veggies. There are numerous differences among CSAs, so you may want to interview local farmers to find one that will fit the needs of your family.
Here are some key questions to ask:
Is investing in CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) a good fit for my family?
CSA’s are best for families who enjoy cooking at home and those who are adventurous eaters or want to grow in that direction. Stuck in a recipe rut? A CSA is a great way to get those creative juices flowing by trying new vegetables and recipes you wouldn’t otherwise consider.
Ask your farmer what’s typically in a share.
Some CSAs sell full-shares, while others offer a smaller half-share, too. Some let you choose what you'd like each week while others fill your box for you and you can simply pick it up. Farmers can give examples of past shares; explain whether they bring in items from other farms versus provide only items they grow themselves; and tell you about flowers, herbs, and other items that might be included in your ration. Those that bring in items from other farms may contain a variety of meats, vegetables, fruit, eggs, dairy and other local agricultural goods. Determine what is best for your family in terms of what they enjoy eating and what you want to get out of your share.
What is the length of the season and how many shares will I receive?
Depending on where you live and the growing resources of the farm, shares typically begin in May or June and can extend to October or even February. Most shares can be arranged weekly or bi-weekly, with pick-up locations at the farm or a public location like a farmer’s market or school.
How is the money I pay for the CSA allocated?
By purchasing a CSA you become a “shareholder.” Every farm has different priorities but many farms depend on the money paid upfront for a CSA to help with seed cost, equipment repair and to pay staff when profit is low but expenses are high. Your farmer can provide specific details as to where funds are needed during your season.
How can I be more involved?
An important aspect of CSA is fostering relationships between community members and farmers. Many farms require work hours (volunteering) and sometimes this is optional. In some cases, work hour “buy outs” may be an option if you’re unable to complete them. For adults and children, educational classes on farming and cooking may be offered.
Read to find a CSA near you? Try using our favorite resource at Local Harvest.
There are many variables when investing in CSA, negative and positive. Crop failure may happen, and at times the farmer may not be able to put everything they produce into your share. It’s a risk you take, along with the farmer, but the benefits of being more involved with your community and knowing your food has been grown close to home outweigh the risks, guaranteed.
We explore one theme every two months. Learn, create change, move forward. This post is part of our Meat & Veggies theme.
CHAPTER GATHERING IDEA
Belong to a local Savvy Chapter means you can discuss, explore and share from YOUR community experiences. Who has tried what? Who loved which farm? Set up a field trip to visit a local farm (with our without kids.) Invite your local farmer to be a guest to your chapter to talk about what they offer, their business model and thoughts about various organic farming philosophies.
- Do you belong to a Chapter? Check out the discussion thread on hosting a Gathering on this topic in our Savvy Cafe.
- Would you like to join a Chapter?
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- Making Veggies Fun: Toddlers to Teens
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"New Hampshire CSA Farms Directory." Agriculture.nh.gov. New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food, Mar. 2016. Web. 06 Nov. 2017.
"All About CSA." Gorman Farm. Gorman Farm, n.d. Web. 06 Nov. 2017. <http://www.gormanproducefarm.com/all-about-csa>.