Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Community Supported Agriculture

Perhaps you've got a friend who has one, a family member who is gushing about their's, you've maybe been offered one? I'm talking CSAs. That's Community Supported Agriculture for those who aren't up on the hip lingo. It's not a new idea, but it's grown beyond the hippies and whole earthers of the old days.Say you are a farmer who wants to produce veggies and fruits for local fresh sale. Prep your fields in the spring, buy seeds and manure, watering systems and labor. That's a big investment! Did you have the savings? Do you have to borrow money? What happens if there's a crop fail? What about a bumper crop, with no money to hire extra harvest workers?

A CSA solves many of those problems. To participate, one buys a "share" at the start of the season. The money goes upfront to cover the cost of getting started! Now every week for the rest of the season, you go pick up a box of fresh produce. If the beans went crazy this year, you get lots of beans. If the tomatoes got destroyed by hail, you get none. No guarantees about the quantities, but it will definitely be fresh! Food like this cannot be bought in the store, at any price.I've decided to join one this season. Least year a good friend signed up for one, and she loved it! But living alone she had far too much food and I was getting weekly gifts of fresh local goodies. A great incentive to cook good healthy food at home. An opportunity to stock up for the winter. What could be better?
There are farms offering CSA programs all over the world. Some offer discounts for doing farm work. Some offer year-round produce. Grant Family Farms offers collaborations with other local growers for fruit, eggs, mushrooms, cheese, fresh bread and other yummies.

Look for local options to get fresh sustainable foods around you. The Farmer's Market is only the beginning!

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