Published on July 7th, 2014 | by TLV News0
Yokel Food: “CSA: Special Vegetables Unit” (Is a CSA Membership Right for You?)
by Betsy Chapman
This article originally appeared in The Local Voice #206.
To download a PDF of this issue, click here.
In this hard-hitting investigation, we will attempt to answer the following question: Is a CSA membership right for you?
But before we begin questioning, let me read you your rights: You have the right to remain healthy. Anything you eat can and will be locally and sustainably grown. You have the right to an honest, hardworking farmer. If you do not have a farmer, one will be appointed to you.
In a world of highly processed food-like substances and vegetables that have more frequent flyer miles than the average corporate businessman, the aisles of your local grocery store can seem as dangerous as the mean streets of New York City…
Word on the street: People are becoming increasingly concerned with where their food is coming from and how it’s being grown/produced. As the interest in local organic food grows, one way for small growers to meet the demand is the CSA model.
CSA or Community Supported Agriculture is a business model employed by mostly small, sustainable farmers since the 1980s. The model matches farmers who want to grow food for their community with people who want to have access to locally grown food.
How the CSA Model Works
1) CSA members sign up and pay a membership fee before the season begins.
2) This gives small growers working capital to plan, prepare ground, order supplies, pay workers, plant and grow food pre-purchased by CSA members.
3) CSA members then pick up a weekly allotment of food for a pre-determined period of time—usually one or more growing seasons.
Is a CSA Membership Right For You?
(If you’d like to continue with the CSI motif, please imagine me asking these questions in a small, dimly lit room, wearing a badge, and pounding my fist on a metal table.)
1) Do you like vegetables?
2) Do you want to have a variety of seasonal vegetables in your diet?
3) Are you okay with the fact that your local farmer will NEVER be able to grow avocados but will instead grow killer in-season tomatoes, okra, and sweet potatoes?
4) Do you enjoy trying interesting varieties like purple carrots & pink potatoes or somewhat “weird” vegetables like kohlrabi?
5) Do you want a relationship with the people who grow your food so you can inquire about farming practices and even visit the farm where your food is grown?
6) Do you want to support the growth of your local food economy and help build a network of small growers who reliably bring high quality food to your community?
If you answered “yes” to all or most of these questions, a CSA membership may be right up your alley! But you might still be wondering how CSA membership differs from shopping at your local farmers market—another important way to support local agriculture.
CSA membership is the most direct way to ensure that your community has access to local food. CSA members are the backbone of small, local farms. Member support provides on-going cash flow especially during the off-season allowing the farm to pay workers fair wages while planning and preparing for the coming season.
The CSA model is based on mutual trust and sharing the risks and rewards of farming. For example, a booming spring season like the one we’ve had this year means rewarding our CSA members with bountiful weekly pick-ups!
If you’re interested in further investigating if a CSA membership is a good fit for you, give me a call at 662-380-2367. We’re offering a CSA Summer Sampler—a great way to get started supporting local agriculture!