Thursday, January 14, 2010

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA Shares)

As you know from some of my previous posts, I wholeheartedly support getting your produce (and meat for that matter) from local farms as much as possible. So far, I've mainly purchased these from farmers' markets in the city. This year, however, I've decided to go a different route: a CSA share.

CSA stands for "Community Supported Agriculture". What exactly does this mean? Basically, you purchase a "share" of a farm, investing in its farming season. This gives money up front to the farm, prior to the growing season, and gives them income when they need it the most. In return, you get a share of their harvest each week. Several farms now have pickup locations at Boston farmers' markets.

Once you've purchased a share, you go to the designated pickup spot each week and get your box of produce! Along with your vegetable share, you can even get fruit, flower, and meat shares from certain farms. CSA shares are often priced on a sliding scale, and farms usually have different sizes available. There is a suggested price per share, but if you have a low income you can pay less. You can also opt to pay more, helping lower income folks to get shares. It really is a win-win situation all around!

Of course, there are risks involved in purchasing a CSA share (if you can call them risks). Since you are taking the same risk as the farmers by investing in the crops, you are at the mercy of the growing season. Having started my own garden last summer, I know all too well how the weather can affect the success of the harvest. However, I think the rewards of a CSA program far outweigh the risk of receiving smaller baskets of produce.

I will be posting updates as soon as I decide which farm to purchase a CSA share from. Then, throughout the season, I will be writing about some of the interesting and wonderful produce I receive.

I really hope this inspires you to go one step further than farmers' markets, and help local farms with their upcoming season by purchasing a CSA share yourself.

For more information on Boston area CSA programs, visit the Boston Localvores site or the NOFA/Mass site.

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