CSA

At either end of any food chain you find a biological system — a patch of soil, a human body — the health of one is connected, literally, to the health of the other.

MICHAEL POLLAN, The Omnivore’s Dilemma

What is Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)?

In Japan, where the concept of CSA began, the words used to describe it translate as “Food with a Face.” This translation becomes clear when one begins to understand that this system of marketing offers the consumer the opportunity to reconnect to the source of their food, to develop a relationship with the person growing it and to walk the land where it is being grown. It offers the farmer an opportunity to develop a personal relationship with those who consume the products of his/her labors and it ensures a ready market for the produce coming out of the fields and gardens.

How does it work?

Membership in a CSA is based on “shares of the harvest.” The shareholders underwrite the harvest for the entire season by paying for their shares in advance. The shareholder is then invited to visit the farm once a week to pick up a bag of fresh, seasonal produce grown without agricultural chemicals.

Since payment is made in advance, shareholders are agreeing not only to share in the harvest, but also to share in the risk. The farmer’s task is to work with nature to produce a beautiful and bountiful harvest. However, since nature offers no guarantees, neither can the farmer. But even in troublesome years, total crop failures are rare and there is always more than enough food to pick up.

What will it cost?

The shareprice is a function of production costs and the number of shares sold. The farmer first produces a budget, itemizing each of the anticipated costs of production. This bottom line expense number is then divided by the number of shares being offered. Using this equation, the full-share price comes to $730 and the half-share price is $390. Recognizing that not everyone has the same ability to pay, a sliding scale range is available. You may pay what you can within the range offered. Terms can be arranged.

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