Reap the Benefits of Community Supported Agriculture

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Spring CSA share from Dutch Buffalo Farm
Spring CSA share from Dutch Buffalo Farm

Many people vow to improve their diet and eat more fruits and vegetables as one of their New Year’s resolutions. If you are looking for ways to make it easier to incorporate fresh, tasty, and nutritious fruits and vegetables into your meals, then consider joining a community supported agriculture program. 

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a production and marketing model whereby consumers buy shares of a farm’s harvest in advance. Consumers become CSA members by paying an agreed amount at the beginning of the growing season, either in one lump sum or in installments. The annual cost, generally ranging from $400-$700, depends on the length of the harvest season and the variety and quantity of products provided. This upfront payment helps buy the seed and other inputs needed for the season and provides the farmer an immediate income to begin the season. By paying at the beginning of the season, CSA members share in the risk of production and relieve the farmer of much of the time needed for marketing. This allows the farmer to concentrate on good land stewardship and growing high quality food.

In return for their membership fee, consumers receive a variety of freshly picked vegetables every week. Some CSAs also offer fruits, herbs, meats, eggs, dairy, cut flowers, and other products. Consumer-members eat healthy, sustainably produced food and have the satisfaction of knowing where it came from and how it was grown. Many CSAs offer on-farm social and educational activities for members, further strengthening the connection between them and the farmers who feed them.

Now is a great time to join a CSA for the 2014 season. Chatham County has nine CSA farms and each is unique. Some offer one long session from spring through fall while others break the season into 2-3 shorter sessions and members can join one or all. Members usually pick up their weekly shares at the farm or farmers’ market. You don’t even have to live in Chatham County to join – pickup locations include Raleigh, Chapel Hill, and Durham!

Community supported agriculture is a convenient way to get high quality locally grown food and is a win-win for both eaters and farmers!

Check out the list of Chatham County CSA Farms to find a match for you!

For more information, consult the CSA Resource Guide for Farmers.

Written By

Photo of Debbie RoosDebbie RoosExtension Agent, Agriculture - Sustainable / Organic Production (919) 542-8244 debbie_roos@ncsu.eduChatham County, North Carolina
Updated on Jan 17, 2014
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