Community supported agriculture or CSA is an idea in farming which began in the early 1960s in Germany, Switzerland and Japan and was introduced to the United States in the 1980s. The concept was to provide consumers the opportunity to partner with farmers to fund farming requirements and production of safe, high quality foods using organic farming methods for the local community.
CSA provides a structure by giving organic food grown locally for the consumption of shareholders and the whole community, thereby promoting a close relationship between farmers and consumers. Farmers grow crops and preserve the land while consumers support by paying in advance for the whole or half shares of a portion of the crops that are produced. CSAs are frequently formed by farmers but a lot of consumers, church groups, suburban as well as inner-city residents have also founded CSAs designed for various causes. CSAs are formed to create awareness to the general public as much as to help people in a variety of ways. Some are founded to help provide employment to the less fortunate individuals, some to re-educate people to shift their diets to fresh and healthy foods, some promote the need to nurture ecology, while others advocate the importance of farming and agriculture, and so forth.
As a consumer who regards health and environment of great importance, you will find the idea of owning a portion of the crops produced by the local farm and having a continuous supply of healthy, fresh produce more than appealing. To support the production of biodynamic farming methods and start a healthy eating lifestyle, join the community supported agriculture.
- Find the local farm near your area where you can sign up for a share of their harvest. Know what the farm grows and how they grow it. Ask for a list of crops the farm produces including their schedule of harvest. As a responsible partner and consumer at the same time, you will need to find out what biodynamic processes, irrigation system, pest control products, farming equipment and so on are applied for the development of the land. Remember that you not only share the rewards of farming but the risks of loss as well. While farmers retain the sense of responsibility for land stewardship, verify if you could possibly know the coverage of farm insurance.
- Determine the membership level, program and delivery system that are appropriate for you. Membership levels are donation, half membership, full membership, and friend of the farm membership. The levels vary on the number of times you receive the share of farm produce, perks and of course the amount you pay. Usually you will pay for a year's membership but some CSAs offer quarterly and monthly membership options. Base your decision on the size of your family, size of the share, and how frequent you need to cook. It will not be sensible to get a share twice a week that is appropriate for a family of four when there is only a couple in the household.
- Know what other opportunities you can get from your membership. CSAs have farm functions and activities where you can be invited. There could be learning opportunities and workshops free for shareholders, etc. Be involved as much as you can.
To know more about community supported agriculture programs, online resources are available for you. Membership registration is also accessible on the Net.