Mary Campbell, Extension Director and Urban Sustainability Agent
One of the ways that we can directly support local food production is through a membership in a local Community Supported Agriculture farm. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has gained recognition as a way to buy local. Consumers also have shown a desire to reconnect with the farmers who grow the crops. The CSA movement began in Japan and Europe and was introduced in the United States in 1986. Currently, there are approximately 1000 CSAs in the United States. Indian Line Farm in Massachusetts and Temple-Wilton Community Farm in New Hampshire were the first CSAs in the United States, both beginning in 1986.
CSA is a partnership between farmers and consumers. In conventional agriculture, the farmer bears all the risk of production, but CSA allows farmers to share farming’s risks—and its rewards—with consumers. CSA depends on people who pledge their financial support to a farm. At the beginning of the growing season, members pay a fee to cover the cost of the farm’s operations and the farmer’s salary. In return, each member receives a weekly share of the farm’s produce—typically a box of fresh vegetables and herbs, though the box might also include fruit, honey, eggs, and even meat. For farmers, CSA offers a fair, steady source of income—and a way to continue the small family farm. Consumers get fresh, great-tasting produce by someone that is part of the local community.
There are many reasons consumers join CSAs. One reason is that the consumer is able to get produce that has not been shipped. The produce is grown locally, reducing the price and damage of shipping. Since the produce is grown locally, the money paid for the produce is invested in locally owned and operated farms. Another reason to join a CSA is that a consumer is able to get items that are typically unavailable in the supermarket. Consumers join CSAs to support local farmers, have access to fresh, high quality produce, access to organic or pesticide-free produce, and to increase participation in community and environmental awareness programs. Not only can a CSA decrease costs for its members, it also gives consumers an inside view on the process of growing food.
Examples of Local CSA: (for informational purposes only)
Gateway Organic Farm
6000 150th Avenue North
Sweetwater Organic Community Farm
Farm Office: 813-887-4066
Geraldson Community Farm
1401 99th St NW
Bradenton, FL 34209
Gamble Creek Farm
14950 Golf Course Rd
Parrish, FL 34219