Community Supported Agriculture: A growing trend in eating local
Jaclyn Brice, health and wellness specialist, Ministry Medical Group
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms have become a growing trend in the United States for the past 25 years, and have surfaced more recently in the Northwoods. CSAs are a popular way for consumers to receive seasonal fresh produce from a local participating farmer by purchasing a “share” from that farm. By purchasing a share, consumers are investing into that year’s harvest and in turn they receive a box of fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, eggs, or meats each week. There are usually several different weekly options for time and location of pick-up of these goods within the community as well as the option of going to the farm itself.
You may have heard the term “CSA” before, but are you aware of the positive effect it can have not only on your health, but the economy as a whole?
Rekindling a sense of community
By participating in a CSA, you are supporting a local farm which may mean higher wages for the farmer and workers. Every dollar spent locally circulates at least seven times; for every $100 you spend locally, $73 stays in your community. By keeping it local, you receive higher quality food with a smaller ecological footprint while instantly boosting the economy. The fewer miles your food has to travel means you receive the full nutritional benefits, enhanced flavor, and fewer carbon emissions which can reduce dependence on oil nationwide. CSA farmers also engage in sustainable agriculture practices such as reduced pesticides, crop rotation, and rotational grazing of meat animals. Many farms host events and invite other CSA participants to tour their farm. They encourage families to attend as they will often engage children in activities that provide education on topics such as harvesting or planting crops. This is a healthy and educational way for families to come together locally while teaching children where their food comes from.
How do I get started?
You can visit http://www.localharvest.org/ or your local farmer’s market to learn about CSAs offered in your area. After you have identified which farm you would like to invest in, be sure to ask these questions:
-What are your production practices?
-Where are your drop-sites?
-What days and times do you deliver?
-How much does your full (or half) share cost?
-What do you produce (meat, eggs, fruits, vegetables) and what is included in my share?
-Do you offer tours, farm events, or worker shares?
Participating in a CSA is a great way to support local farmers, enjoy organic produce and colorize by eating a variety of fruits and vegetables!