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Community Supported Agriculture

You’ve heard of it but you might not be sure what it means, exactly, right? Or why you should join one?

Joining a CSA means you become a member of a community by committing to the purchase of a weekly share of seasonal produce.

CSA today doesn’t quite mean what it did ‘back in the day’ of its 1970’s origins.

Read below for an explanation of the roots and importance of community-supported agriculture.

from FoodRevolution.org

CSA stands for “community-supported agriculture.” It’s a model of farming, distribution, and marketing that began in Japan in the 1960s. The women who pioneered the model were looking for alternatives to the pesticide-heavy, industrial-scale agriculture that had replaced small, local farms and farming families. Swiss farmers and consumers created proto-CSAs in the 1970s, inspired by similar developments in Chile and France. The first CSAs in the Americas started in New England in the mid-1980s.

This history of CSA is from ‘The Untold History of CSA’ , Foodprint.org. The author is Kate Anstreicher.

Booker T. Whatley, a Black author, horticulturist, and professor at Tuskegee University (Tuskegee, AL), identified 10 commandments he considered essential for successful farming in the 1960s and 1970s. Included in these commandments was the concept of a “Clientele Membership Club,” in which club members paid an upfront fee to pick their own produce all season long.

This system enabled farmers to pay for necessary seeds and equipment at the beginning of the season without taking out a loan. It saved growers time and effort required to harvest produce and granted club members agency in choosing the food they were eating.

At the same time that Booker T. Whatley was researching intensive, small-scale farming in the United States, CSA-like models were being independently established elsewhere in the world. In 1965, a group of Japanese women founded the Teikei system.

Emphasizing mutually supportive, producer-consumer relationships, Teikei built off of Japan’s long history of economic cooperatives. It also reflected growing national concern over food safety and chemical contamination in the wake of Minimata Disease (methylmercury poisoning that affected thousands near Minimata Bay, Kumamoto, Japan), and gained additional momentum after the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown of 1986. To this day, farming cooperatives remain very popular in Japan, and the Japan Organic Agricultural Association elevates consumers’ and producers’ shared commitment to elevating safe, healthy food grown in Japan.

At its core, a CSA is a way for consumers to buy local, seasonally fresh food directly from a farmer that most supports the farmer to keep on farming and be financially sustainable.

Of course, people have been getting produce from local farmers for as long as there have been farms.

CSA is all about commitment

It’s a commitment for the member to eat their veggies and pay their farmer.

It’s a commitment for the farmer to grow a wide variety of fresh, nutritious food and provide it weekly to the member.

The main innovation of the CSA is the way it distributes risk and reward among the entire community, including the farmer.

Here’s how it generally works.

A farm offers a certain number of “shares” to the public. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a “membership” or a “subscription”), often well before the growing season.

In return, members receive a CSA ‘share’ of seasonal produce each week throughout that particular farming season.

What I have found over the years of being a CSA farmer is that community members join to support a small, local farm…members stay when they commit to themselves to eat seasonally and organically. What begins as an altruistic, external motivation becomes an intrinsic motivation when people feel better, look better and know they are ‘doing better’ for their community.

Some CSAs offer different box sizes to accommodate varying family sizes or individual needs. While the box contains the harvest produce from that week, some CSA boxes also include the option to add other artisanal foods and products from local farms.

The customer then picks up their box at a given time and place, either directly from the farm or at community locations.

And some CSAs deliver straight to the customer’s door.

Oak Spring Farm partners with Harvie (a CSA customization software) to customize CSA weekly shares based on your preferences. By rating the different vegetables available this season with a ranking of 0-5, Harvie’s software platform will customize your weekly vegetable boxes based on your preferences. Customization means you will eat more healthy and local food; because you are getting more of what you like. You’ll waste less food, while directly supporting organic farming.

Learn More On Our CSA Page

CUSTOMIZED BOXES

Customized boxes based on what YOU want! Not a fan of beets? Want to eat all the carrots? Customized boxes will allow you to select preferences at sign-up and then customize each week based on our harvest. This will help you actually use everything in the box because you’ll love everything you are getting!

“I liked the idea of being able to see and edit the contents of my basket before pick-up day. Customization reduces waste and makes menu planning more efficient.” -HARVIE MEMBER

REDUCE FOOD WASTE

Food waste is the #1 reason folks don’t return to a CSA and we want to fix that! Because you are getting what you want, you’ll see less food getting tossed or composted which is going to ensure you are getting the biggest bang for your buck.

“I adore farm-fresh food; however sometimes with a “regular” share you get piles and piles of something you just can’t stand. Harvie lets me tweak my share so food doesn’t go to waste.” -HARVIE MEMBER

Order “Extra” Items

Want to order “extra” items from the farm? With just a few clicks of a button we’ll put those items in your box which means less trips to the grocery store and more time in your day!

Weekly Payment Plans

Tired of remembering to make payments or can’t pay in full? Choose the payment plan at check out and your card will be charged automatically each time your share is delivered. Keepin’ it simple and easy for you!

Vacation Holds

Vacation planned? Need to change your drop site? No problem. You can easily reschedule your box or change pick-pick up locations to accommodate your busy life, so no more missing out on those veggies you paid for.

Recipe Suggestions

Fridge full of food but nothing for dinner? We’ve got you covered. Harvie is working hard to provide you with recipe suggestions, cooking tips, storage, and food prep resources so you won’t be scrambling to get dinner on the table.

 

Please feel free to reach out to Lisa to schedule a 15-minute CSA discovery phone. Email her here lisa@oakspring-farm.com

 

Sign up for your customized CSA now!