Growing Community Roots

What is a CSA ~ Community-supported Agriculture System

With the convenience of grocery stores, quick shops, and take-out restaurants, it’s hard to imagine a time when Americans had to grow their own food. But with the unexpected quarantine, many Georgians are finding time to pick up new hobbies and gardening can be one of them. Now more than ever having a strong immune system and nutrient rich fruits and veggies are an excellent way to combat COVID-19.

Farmers looking to supplement their income, paired with Americans’ increased interest in where their food comes from, has sparked a resurgence of community-supported agriculture systems, or CSAs. There are currently thousands of CSAs around the country providing people with fresh, locally grown produce—and some farmers even raise livestock for meat and dairy products.

WHAT IS A CSA?

The CSA business model is relatively simple, and it requires a partnership between farmers and community members to sustain itself. Typically at the start of a new season, community members are invited to purchase a share of the crops in exchange for membership in the CSA. A share can vary in price and scope, depending on the CSA’s offerings and size. These shares are typically offered on a weekly or biweekly basis, and include a variety of fruits, vegetables, and other goods.

“They pay up front, which gives us enough capital to cover costs when expenses rise before spring. Members start coming to the farm in May to begin their weekly or biweekly pickups of the harvest, and a share typically includes twelve to fifteen items. These pickups are market-style, which means all of the produce on the share is pre-harvested and set out in bins in our shed for members to choose the bunch of their liking.” Many people know such operations as CO-OPS, I was a member of a CO-OP for several years and the convenience of not having to source local organic veggies was amazing!

HOW ARE CSAs SUSTAINABLE?

On top of quality, shopping locally helps reduce the environmental impacts of the food production and transportation system. When food is grown, purchased, and consumed all within the same community, the carbon footprint is dramatically smaller than that of food grown and processed thousands of miles away, shipped to stores, and then purchased. Farmers are able to deliver food directly to consumers instead of selling it to outside sources, and that means less time from farm to table.

HOW DOES THE COMMUNITY BENEFIT FROM A CSA?

CSAs benefit farmers and the environment, but they are also a priceless opportunity for community members to interact directly with the people who are growing their food, and vice versa. It helps strengthen community ties to know that everyone is supporting each other’s well-being. CSA members get to interact with their friends and neighbors, and they eat the same food from the same farm. While people have always connected through food, Kurylo notes that it’s their connection to the food system that is often strained.

HOW CAN YOU GET INVOLVED IN A CSA?

With thousands of CSAs in operation across the country, there are plenty of opportunities for Americans to get involved in their community. A good place to start is by visiting LocalHarvest, a website that offers a free database for consumers to find the CSA closest to them. It also explains some of the benefits of joining a CSA, has reviews of local farms, and offers tips for buying local. For more info, visit localharvest.org

Every month I would like to focus on a topic that will help you to grow mentally, physically and financially. Being your local Realtor is not just about selling houses. It is about being a contributing member of my community, loving my neighbor, and being helping to a establish a local tribe that builds. 

Until next time,

Elizabeth

Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of Red Barn Real Estate.

Elizabeth Marcelline

678-536-3833 (770) 766-8422

Georgia State Alum with a background in Commercial Contracting and currently ranks in top 10% as producer at Red Barn