Have you heard the term CSA, but aren’t quite sure what it means exactly?  Community Supported Agriculture, often referred to as a CSA, is purchasing a crop share directly from your farmer.  It allows the consumer to have guaranteed products from a farm, while giving the farmer money upfront to help with costs associated with running the day to day operations.  It provides a wonderful relationship between consumer and farmer, and offers a wide variety of products the consumers are guaranteed to get.  When you participate, you also help share some of the risk that a farmer experiences.

So how does it work?  In the spring a few years ago, my husband and I made the decision to purchase a CSA share from Country Garden Farm Market.  I can’t remember the specific cost, but I was pumped to be part of it.  We filled out our form, handed over our check, and waited for our CSA to start.  My family and I have participated in two CSA’s in our recent past.  We had a pretty bad experience with one (a 20 lb box was what we were given each week, and we didn’t get to choose any of the products in the box…it was mostly zucchini the entire season).  Our most recent CSA was purchased through Country Garden Farm

Market and we had a wonderful experience.  We went each Thursday to pick up our CSA share directly at the farm (although they have other places you can pick up your share as well).  Each week, we would drive to Dan and Wendy’s farm in Roanoke with the kids in tow.  We were given a bag of salad mix each week, as well as an herb or two.  They had a bounty of produce set up across several tables and instructions listed on how much we were able to take each week.  Some weeks it was more, some it was less, but it all balanced out in the end.  We were able to have a variety of peppers, tomatoes, squashes, berries, and a ton of other items we never even heard of!  Part of the driving force for my family making the decision to participate in a CSA was that we wanted to try products we hadn’t in the past.  That year we tried different peppers we didn’t know existed, I dabbled in using more fresh herbs for meals, and I canned a lot that year!  It was also really important to me that my children know where their food comes from (they are 8 and 4).  It doesn’t come out of a can at the grocery store….it starts at a farm; a local farm in our case, and they got to see it first hand each week.

 

The reality of us participating in a CSA, was while we had a wonderful experience and loved it, we grow a lot of our own food.  We haven’t done one since the year we participated with Dan and Wendy at Country Garden Farm Market, but it was so wonderful to have that connection and relationship between my farmer and what I was feeding my family.  If you don’t have the time to grow your own food, a CSA is a wonderful opportunity for you.  I would strongly encourage you to speak to any of these vendors listed below to find out about their CSA programs (each one operates a little differently) and see what options that they currently have available and which is best for you.  Here are three local farms who are currently offering CSA programs.

 

Country Garden Farm Market

Hawkins Family Farm

Master Plan Farm
To read more about the good and bad of a CSA, here is a great article from Local Harvest.  https://www.localharvest.org/csa/