Community Supported Agriculture
American farms have been disappearing at a dizzying rate since World War II. Since 1950 the price farmers pay for supplies has gone up steadily, while the price they receive has stayed the same or gone done. Farmers assume the greatest risk involved in supplying us with foods and reap the least benefit for their effort. No wonder they are going out of business.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a movement that understands that we all lose when small family farms fail. It recognizes that under-rewarded risk taking and the excessive cut of the middlemen are killing our small farms and it offers a simple and practical plan to save farms.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) began in the 1960's with a Japanese movement called teikei or "putting the farmers' face on food." It usually involves members supporting a small farm by buying a share in the total annual production of that farm in advance. In return for their investment, CSA members receive a box or bag full of fresh, locally grown typically organic produce once a week from late spring through early fall. This mutual relationship helps create economically stable small farms where growers have a guaranteed market for a wide selection of crops. CSAs are a great way to get the best fruits and vegetables for your table and to help strengthen the local farm economy at the same time.
As of January 1999, there were over 1000 CSA farms across the US and Canada, and the movement is growing rapidly. CSAs usually offer their members some education about farm realities and many offer opportunities to share in the farm labor in exchange for lower produce costs. One benefit of this is that members have a better understanding and acceptance of produce with cosmetic imperfections, so less food is thrown away. Where farmers markets let the consumer meet the farmer, most CSAs let the consumer meet the farm.