CS… What? The skinny on Community Shared Agriculture!

What if I told you that you could get a weekly “present” of delicious, local produce all through summer? Would you enjoy having a mini food holiday every week? Hopefully you said yes! If you shouted NO, perhaps you are visiting the wrong blog… hmm. Anyway, for those of you who said yes, here’s how to make it happen!

A community shared agriculture program, or CSA, offers a direct connection with local farms and farmers. The basic concept is that members sign up with the CSA before the growing season. These upfront memberships allow the farms to prepare a budget for their upcoming season. After the first payment all you have to do as a member is:

  • Be excited and wait for your fresh weekly produce to be ripe and ready
  • Eat the food up before you get your next box/basket of goodness
  • Enjoy being healthier while supporting your local growers

So I know what you are thinking, “Wait a minute! I have some questions here. This seems like a great deal, what’s the catch? Also, it’s March in Montana… all of our produce isn’t exactly ready to eat yet!”

Let me start out by stating that I am from Wisconsin. I know your long winter pain! The thing is, CSA’s are becoming more and more popular. Now is the time to take a look at what is available in your area and get signed up. Many of these farms are small and can only allow so many members each season. Don’t Miss Out!

A great way to find out about your local CSA’s is this website:


www.localharvest.org

Just type in your City/Zip Code, choose CSA’s, and decide which program best for you. Make sure to look at the details about share sizes, number of weeks of the program, and the cost to join.

Cost to join… right. There was that question about “the catch.” Well here’s the deal, it’s not really a catch but CSA’s are expensive up front. Full season (23 weeks) shares can cost between $350 to $600. This is a lot of money to spend at once, but if you compare it to buying the same produce over the summer at the grocery store you will almost always come out ahead (if you buy local and/or organic you can be way ahead)! Some shares even include things like fresh baked bread, local eggs, and options of adding meats. If cost is a problem many growers also offer 1/2 shares or 1/2 season full shares to sign up for as well.

Just take some time and look at what’s in your area. The worst that can happen is you decide it’s too expensive or not exactly what you were looking for. A more likely scenario is you get an amazing deal on local produce, keep your hard-earned money in your community, and take one more step towards eating and living healthier!