Is It Worth It to Join a CSA?

by in Uncategorized, April 17, 2009


Earth Month usually means green-living trends top the headlines. One thing you might be hearing about is CSAs, or community-based agricultural programs. I’m always singing the praises of my local CSA. To which most reply, “What’s that?” Well, here’s why I think they’re so darn fabulous.

CSA 101
First of all, CSA stands for “community supported agriculture.” By joining a CSA, members basically buy a portion (or share) of a local farm’s harvest for the year. You pay an initial fee in exchange for a weekly box of fresh and seasonal items. Some CSA programs also offer members the chance to work off their share by helping out on the farm. You might pick up your goodies at the farm or a designated pick-up spot (some CSAs even offer home delivery).

What you get in your share will vary depending on the specific farm, but offerings typically include fruit and vegetables as well as baked goods, dairy and eggs — even honey and flowers may be available. My CSA offers a choice of fruits, vegetables, flowers or a combination of the three. Of course, the variety depends on the seasonality; as it becomes available on the farm, it will show up in your CSA box.

To join a CSA, talk to your local farmer or look on the farm’s website to see if they offer a program (not all farms do). You can also find a local CSA by plugging your zip code into the Local Harvest website. (Read more about the growing number of CSA groups in this New York Times article.)

The Pros
Farmers really benefit from this community support. At the same time, the consumer benefits by getting the freshest local foods available throughout the year. Even though you’re putting up a significant amount of money, you get a ton of produce each week so you’ll save money in the long run.

One of my favorite things about my weekly CSA box is I never know what’s going to be in it, and I’m forced to be creative with the contents. On the rare occasion that I don’t know what something is, I just email my farmer, and she fills me in and gives me great ideas about what to do with it. A word of warning: CSA boxes can contain more food than you know what to do with. You may want to join with a friend (or 2) — this will cut down the cost too — or make time for canning and freezing (then you get the veggies year-round).

The Cons
Unfortunately, CSA programs are still hard to find in some areas. Some can be extremely expensive, so you need to do your homework to make sure you’re getting the best program for your money. I’ve seen prices vary anywhere from $300-$1000 a year. You also don’t have control over what you’ll get in your weekly box. Farmers decide what they have enough of to go around (they might save certain items for sale at the farmers’ markets). A large, weekly box of foods can get overwhelming and give you more than you know what to do with, which leads to waste.

Bottom Line: Joining a CSA is a wonderful way to support local agriculture and buy fresh and affordable produce, but it’s a big commitment. If you’re new to buying local foods, you may want to start by shopping at your local farmers’ market or farm stand weekly before signing up for a CSA. You’ll still reap all the benefits of local (and fresh!) foods and help support your community.

TELL US: Do you belong to a CSA?

Similar Posts

The Skinnytaste Cookbook: Light on Calories, Big on Flavor

What does skinny taste like? Just ask Gina Homolka. For six years, low-fat foodie Gina Homolka has been satisfying the tastebuds of a loyal following ...

Comments (29)

  1. Sadie says:

    The CSA’ here locally is $825 per May thru October. Being on a fixed income and watching every penny, that is more than I can spend at one time. They have a payment schedule of $300 deposit by May, $300 by July and $260 by September. Too rich for my blood.

    Any suggestions?
    Thanks

  2. Char says:

    We are in a CSA for the first time this year. We’re looking forward to our membership providing most of our veggie needs, supplemented by the local farmer’s market if necessary. It will be exciting to open our box to see what is inside!!

  3. When I first saw this title Is It Worth It to Join a CSA? | Healthy Eats – Food Network Healthy Living Blog on google I just whent and bookmark it. Good day. Very cool web site!! Man .. Excellent .. Superb .. I’ll bookmark your web site and take the feeds additionally…I am happy to locate a lot of useful info right here in the article. Thanks for sharing.

  4. funny videos says:

    When I first saw this title Is It Worth It to Join a CSA? | Healthy Eats – Food Network Healthy Living Blog on google I just whent and bookmark it. Howdy. Very cool blog!! Man .. Beautiful .. Wonderful .. I’ll bookmark your blog and take the feeds additionally…I am satisfied to locate a lot of helpful info right here in the post. Thanks for sharing…

  5. It’s essentially a great and helpful piece of information. I’m happy that you simply shared this useful information with us. Please keep us up to date similar to this. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Eddy Goluba says:

    Hi,pls want to ask if there is any an individual for java,if there is just not,pls when will there be

  7. Great publish. I was checking regularly this blog site and I am impressed! Extremely valuable information specifically the last part I care for this kind of facts a lot. I was seeking this unique details for any pretty lengthy time. Thank you and best of luck.

  8. Hi genuinely good study.
    I ought to admit aim pretty new to using WordPress well actually really new. Just starting to get the hang of it. Reading your post has been incredibly informative. I need to admit still not totally 100% percent clear in my head. So have just put your blog on my desktop so I’m able to go straight to it and have another glance later.

  9. Cori Brandy says:

    Most folks have no clue how tough it’s to uncover a website with this kind of nicely written content material. Thank you a lot for publishing this. Most with the material articles or blog posts I locate out there is just plain lousy. It is possible to bet I’ll be back for a lot more. Thanks Once again.

  10. We’re going to maintain posts on html web page webpages. Within the online placed your report in the databases by having an impossible to access tackle for that search engines like yahoo. Your current report will get placed in the various search engines.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>