For over 30 years in the United States, community-supported agriculture (CSA) has been a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal and fresh produce directly from a farmer.
Community-supported agriculture farms generally share three common characteristics: an emphasis on community and/or local produce, shares or subsciptions sold prior to season, and weekly deliveries to members/subscribers. A farmer offers a certain number of shares to the public; a share consistes of a weekly box of fresh produce (typically mostly fruits and veggies) which is delivered to the members weekly. For the farmer, they are able to market their food earlier in the year (before their long days in the field begin), they receive payment early in the season when it is most needed, and they develop a direct relationship with the people who eat the food they grow.
Advantages for the consumer are fresh and locally grown produce with all it’s flavor and nutritional benefits, seasonal food and an understanding of the seasons and what grows locally, exposure and the opportunity to learn about new veggies or fruits, a vast reduction in the number of miles your food has traveled to reach your plate, and the benefit of knowing your farmer and how your food is grown. There is an important concept woven into the CSA model that takes the arrangement beyond the usual commercial transaction. That is the notion of shared risk: in most CSAs members pay up front for the entire season and the farmers do their best to provide an abundant box of produce each week. If the weather doesn’t corporate or
something else happens on the farm to cause harvest to be less than ideal, both farmer and consumer share in that risk together. Farmers and members share in the risk and rewards of farming. The idea of shared risk is part of what creates a sense of community among members, and between members and farmers.
Choosing to become a CSA member not only supports local farmers, it also supports eating a nutrient-rich diet by providing fresh produce each week directly to your door (well, almost to your door – you may have to pick it up each week). This year, Harlequin produce will be doing a CSA drop at Monkey Bar Gym on Tuesday evenings. It just couldn’t get any easier! I, and several other MBG members, can attest to the quality and value of Harlequin’s CSA share. If you are interested in learning more about Harlequin’s CSA farm share, visit their website at harlequinorganicproduce.com.