What is a CSA Farm
First thing you need to know is what CSA stands for. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, which means that a person buys a share of a farms harvest. Purchasing a share in advance helps a farm purchase seed, fertilizer, prepare equipment and have everything ready to go for the growing season. You help the famers get started and in return you receive part of the seasons harvest. Basically you are hiring local farmers to grow you some pretty awesome food all summer and/or winter long.
A Brief History of CSA Farms;
CSA style farming first began in Europe and was brought over to the United States around 1980. It eventually grew to have around 8,000 farms across the USA and a couple hundred in Canada, with very high numbers in Ontario. Its purpose was to create a direct farm market for smaller farms, it also creates a direct relationship with farmers for consumers. North America’s population began quickly increasing, so the agriculture industry decided to become more efficient by increasing in size and investing in modernization. This was a must to support the fast-growing population. Not all farms decided to go this route as it was a very expensive investment and not everyone could do it. The CSA farming style offered and alternate option as size didn’t’ matter. The numbers of farms fluctuated over the years due to demand and economic trends, as CSA farms directly depend on the consumers interest. Today CSA Farms are becoming much more popular as the public has become much more interested in supporting local farms and knowing where their food comes from.
What does a CSA farm Offer?
This varies from farm to farm. Some farms like to remain small scale by keeping their member limit very small. Other farms love to live large and feed their whole local town! There are also lots of sizes in between. Farms can offer a range of items for their members, but it all depends on what produce they can grow and what livestock they raise. The more variety of items a farm offers, the more popular it tends to be.
For example, Our CSA Farm Offers:
- 50+ varieties of fruits and vegetables
- Pastured raised beef, pork, chicken, turkeys, and sheep.
- Maple Syrup
- Premade meals, jams, and preserves
- Member Bonus events such as an open house and a free pass to our fall festivities
Why join a farm share instead of shopping at the grocery store?
1- Economic benefits:When you support local businesses, you grow your local economy. CSA farms can also create jobs in the community, for example our farm hires many summer students to work farmers markets for us.
2- Food Knowledge:You can talk to you farmer and learn how your food is grown. You can also go and see how your food is grown! These are the nice things about the smaller sized farming. Many CSA farms today have social media accounts where they share a lot of their growing practices, so everyone can see how their food is growing.
3- Relationship with your Farmer:CSA Farmers are very interactive with their members. Large scale farms here in Canada always care what is going on your table, but their first interaction is with their large-scale buyers who then sell to you, so the farmer to consumer relationship is removed. CSA Farmers first interaction is directly with their members.
4- Opportunities to be Adventurous:Most CSA farms offers a variety of share boxes where they choose what you receive, or you can customize, this is a great way to try new things and experiment with recipes! Farms can offer many different kinds of fruits and vegetables that you may not always find in the grocery store.
5- FRESH:There is a major difference in the taste of a strawberry that is picked ripe that morning vs. a strawberry that was picked to early because it cannot rot before it reaches the other side of the country. The best tasting fruits and vegetables are picked when they are ripe and ready and that is the kind of produce members receive. Produce in grocery stores can often sit out on display for days and lose their taste or their produce is under-ripe because it had to travel along distance to get to there.
6- TASTE:If you consider yourself a real foody, then you will love trying out a CSA program. Most CSA farms have pasture raised animals and are fed a very different diet compared to animals raised on large scale farms. CSA farms also tend to invest in different breeds that are known for their meat quality, where larger farms are more concerned with how much they can get out of one carcass, sacrificing the taste factor. The same goes for produce, CSA farms pick your box the day before you receive your box, so you get ripe and fresh produce.
7- Reduce Food Waste: Grocery stores throw away any produce that is not “perfect”, so much food is thrown away and is wasted. CSA farms give you the best produce, but you get to see all shapes and sizes. The amount of Produce & Meat actually grown is controlled because only what is needed to fill members shares is produced. This prevents over production unlike what happens in grocery stores, when meat doesn’t sell, it is made into ground products or it is thrown away to compost.
Pros of a CSA Farm:
- The freshest fruits and vegetables possible.
- The knowledge of where your food comes from.
- Relationship with the people who grow your food.
- The best quality of meat.
- Supporting local farmers.
- Boosting the local economy
- Reduce Food Waste
Cons of a CSA Farm:
- More expensive then grocery store.
- More effort required for cooking.
- Some farms are limited to the items they can offer so members may not receive a big variety.
What is a CSA Farm?
A generally small, but mighty style of farming that results in the production of food with an outstanding level of taste, fueled by the local public for the local public, and an environmentally sustainable way of producing food.
- Coopers CSA Farm