Community Supported Agriculture consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community’s farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production.
-United States Dept. of Agriculture
About Community Supported Agriculture
Typically, members of the farm purchase a share in advance, committing to the farm for the season and helping cover the initial annual costs of the farm operation. In return, members receive boxes of the farm’s produce or products throughout the growing season, as well as satisfaction gained from reconnecting to the land and being more knowledgeable of local food production.
Once harvesting begins, members pick-up a weekly box of foods which may include produce, fruits, cheeses, eggs, meats, poultry, flowers, herbs or preserves. Pick-up sites are often located at a member’s house, local businesses, or at the farm. Most farms create a newsletter that accompanies each delivery with notes about farm activities, descriptions of what’s in the delivery, cooking tips and recipes. Many farms also create opportunities for their members and families to visit the farm and participate in farm events. The typical CSA season in Wisconsin runs from the end of May through mid-October. Farms offer a diversity of share options including extended season shares, multiple share types and sizes, and special funds and payment plans to accommodate households on a tight budget. CSA farmers use sustainable and organic methods to produce high quality to reduce the impact of agriculture on the environment.
For the FairShare CSA Coalition and FairShare growers, CSA is MUCH MORE than just a weekly delivery of food or food products.
As CSA becomes a household name, we’re seeing more and more versions of “CSA style” products on the market. These “box schemes” source products from all over the country or world, just as most grocery stores do (we’re grateful to have a strong group of grocery co-ops in Wisconsin which do a wonderful job supporting local growers!). You don’t build a relationship with any of the farmers involved and it may be difficult to even find out where something really came from. On the other hand, our growers are the producers of the vast majority of their box contents. Does that mean they don’t collaborate with their neighbors to add value to their shares by offering occasional specialty items? No, it means that the CSA Coalition growers are the primary producers of their share members’ food. It means that as a member of a FairShare farm you TRULY know your farmer. Your dollars are literally going directly to the farmer at full retail value for their farm products. Your box is not a hodgepodge of products amassed from throughout the region or country, but rather a delicious box containing the bounty of your farm, picked, washed and prepared by your farmer, for you.
The goals of CSA support a sustainable agriculture system which provides farmers with direct outlets for farm products and ensures fair compensation.