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Exploring different CSA options

The concept of community supported agriculture (CSA) originated in the 1960s with Dr. Booker T. Whatley as a way to support local Black farmers. Called “clientele membership clubs” at the time, the basis of the model was an up-front payment to ensure farmers had the capital to start their season strong. In return, members would receive weekly allotments of food from the farm during the growing season.

Sound familiar? Today’s CSA models still often feature pre-season payments as a way to become a “member” of the farm. But over the past 40 years, CSA membership has expanded beyond a box of weekly food, with many farms now offering several types of CSA shares with more flexibility for their customers. 

Each farm has unique CSA offerings that appeal to different preferences and lifestyles, but we've broken down a few of the more common styles of CSA below:

  1. Traditional CSA: The cornerstone of CSA, the traditional model involves members receiving a weekly or bi-weekly share of the farm's harvest - either picking up directly on the farm, or at a local pickup site coordinated by the farmer.

  2. Market-Style CSA: For those who appreciate flexibility and choice, market-style CSA allows members to choose their items at a designated pick-up spot or farmers' market stand. "Shop" for your produce from what's available that week.

  3. Customizable CSA: Farms offering customizable CSA options allow members to tailor their shares based on individual preferences. Don't like eggplant? Swap it out with a kohlrabi, so your box is always full of what you want to eat.

  4. Worker Share CSA: For those seeking a more hands-on connection to their food, worker shares offer members the ability to contribute their time and labor on the farm in exchange for a share of the harvest.

And CSA isn't just for produce! While the CSA model started with members signing up to receive shares of vegetables and fruits grown on the farm, many farms now offer add-on shares (or entire CSA shares!) of other farm products. Meat, eggs, herbs, bread, flowers, value-added products, and so much more can be purchased in advance through your local farmer.

When you get locally grown food from a farmer you know, you get more than just delicious ingredients for your meals. CSA memberships offer a meaningful connection between consumers and their farmer neighbors.

To find a farm (and CSA share) that works for your needs, use our Farm Search Tool and filter by what you're looking for. Whichever type resonates with you, supporting local farmers through a CSA is both delicious and fulfilling!


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