WHY JOIN A CSA
There are many reasons to join a CSA or farm share. From the consumer's perspective:
- The typical CSA farmer is happy to answer questions about their growing practices, giving you more insight into how your food is grown.
- You are helping to support a local farmer; this includes keeping land in agricultural use, maintain cultural knowledge of small scale farming and strengthening the local farming community. on of small scale agricultural knowledge.
- You get to enjoy different fruits and vegetables than you might normally have picked at the store (I learned of a love for turnips, myself).
- You don't have to visit the grocery store, or at least not as often.
- In some cases, you get to visit the farm, meet the staff who is providing your food.
- Buying local helps the local economy.
- Your food is super fresh--often picked hours before you get it.
- Your food will taste better--carrots and tomatoes in particular stand out as far better tasting.
- You'll eat more vegetables. (You might give some away.)
- You'll cook more.
- You'll save money, compared to the farmer's market.
- You are more connected to the seasons--you will eat greens in the spring and tomatoes in the fall.
- Finally, you are helping to support a local farmer (worth a second mention).
The main reason that farmers do it is because it allows them to get capital when they need it and don't have much of anything to sell (early spring). It also connects them to a community and is more profitable than selling to stores.
CSAs are not perfect for everyone, however. Here are some reasons to skip signing up for a farm share:
- If you don't like to cook, you might want to avoid CSAs that provide meat or produce, though a milk, fruit or honey share might be acceptable.
- If you don't have time to cook, as well as pick up and process produce, I'd stay away from produce shares.
- If you don't have the ability to pay hundreds of dollars for a share at the beginning of the season, a share might be difficult to buy, but check with farmer--some have programs for under privileged families.
- If you travel or eat out more than 50% of the time, then you'll miss pickups or have spoiled food in your fridge.
- If you have no time to pick up your share, you'll want to see if farms close to you have home delivery options.
If you are interested in a farm share, here is some information to help you take the next step.
- Signup season runs from January to May. Some farms pro-rate if you join later, others sell out in February. Find a farm close to you or one that delivers to your city. You can use ColoradoCSAs.info for this, if you live in Colorado, otherwise I'd try Localharvest.org.
- Talk to multiple farmers and get member references if possible. Each CSA farm is different and talking to existing members is a great way to find out if a particular program will work for you.
- Start small. Get the smallest share you think will be worth your time, as sometimes the amount of food you receive and have to eat in a week can be overwhelming.