Those who frequent local farmers markets and stands may have heard the term “CSA” used, but are unsure of what it means or stands for. CSA is an acronym for Community Supported Agriculture. The crux of the CSA is that the consumer purchases a share of a particular farm’s harvest before it is produced each season.
Produce shares typically cost anywhere from $450-650 per share and they often include a weekly box of 7-10 vegetables and/or fruits, or enough to feed a family of 2-3. Many CSAs also offer half-shares as well. CSAs are not just limited to produce. As fruit and vegetable CSAs have grown in popularity, there has been a growth of CSAs that offer meat, eggs, milk, and other farm products. There are also CSAs for different seasons, including spring, summer, fall, and even winter here in Michigan. Shares are picked up weekly or bi-weekly at a specific location, depending on the CSA. Sometimes they are brought to market, whereas other times they are picked up directly at the farm.
CSAs ensure that farmers are better able to pay for up-front costs such as such as seed, water, and equipment—ideally making them less reliant on banks and loans. They also help to spread the risk amongst producers and consumers when growing seasons are more challenging, all the while evenly distributing the benefits when the season is bountiful. CSAs encourage a direct producer-consumer relationship by cutting out the “middle-man” and often foster a stronger sense of community that helps to reinforce the regional food supply.
All CSAs are managed differently, so it is important to find the CSA that best suits your lifestyle and needs. CSA fairs are becoming more common and provide opportunities for consumers to meet the farmers that offer CSAs in the area and decide which ones appeal to them. Slow Food Huron Valley of Washtenaw has offered CSA fairs in the spring for the last 5 years. Keep checking their website for information about 2018: https://www.slowfoodhuronvalley.com/.
The following Ann Arbor Farmers Market vendors offer a variety of CSAs: Brines Farm, Gardenworks, Community Farm of Ann Arbor, Goetz Greenhouse, Green Things Farm, Harvest Kitchen, Kapnick’s Orchard, Locavorious, Our Family Farm, Tantre Farm, and Whitney Farmstead.
Looking for a fall or winter CSA? Green Things Farm, Locavorious, and Tantre Farm offer them! You can find out more information at the following sites: http://greenthingsfarm.squarespace.com/csa/, http://www.locavorious.com/about-us/winter-csa, http://www.tantrefarm.com/about-csa/.
This article was submitted by Stephanie Willette.