It’s February, time to sign up for your CSA! Not sure what a CSA is? The acronym stands for “Community Supported Agriculture” a way for farmers and consumers to establish a direct connection, providing an excellent food source for the consumer and a dependable income stream for the farmer. Though there are a variety of CSA models popping up across the country, the main idea is for the consumer to commit financially to buying food from a single source for the entire season, and for the farmer to utilize that investment by producing and delivering fresh, healthy food to the customer. It’s a big win for both parties– superior local food for the subscriber and guaranteed income for the provider.
So why join a CSA when you can get what you need at the local supermarket? There are several reasons. Local food that has not traveled thousands of miles to sit on the grocery shelf is fresher, more nutritious, and most likely contains fewer harmful chemicals. If you know your farmer, you can ask he or she directly how the food is grown, what inputs are used and exactly when it was harvested. Additionally, you aren’t dependent on a complex distribution system that’s vulnerable to labor shortages, weather, transportation problems, or disrupting events. You have a one- step supply chain, directly from the source to you, the consumer.
So, you think you’d like to try a CSA but not sure where to start? The first step is to find one close to your home that aligns with your wants and needs in regards to what they offer, their model, pricing, policies and anything else you find important when getting your food for the week. Local Harvest provides a great service where you can simply type in your location and compare the various CSA’s in your area to find your best match. It’s important not to wait, especially this year. There was a tremendous surge in demand for CSA memberships last spring when the Covid -19 outbreak caused problems in the food supply chains, and resulted in empty shelves in the supermarkets. As a result, many CSA’s across the country had long waiting lists for the 2020 season.
There are several different types of CSA’s, with a market style shopping experience becoming one of the most popular. Members have the freedom to pick out their own share for the week from what is offered by the farmer. The most basic model offers members a standard box of goods that is curated by the farmer and picked up by the member weekly. Each method has their benefits and it’s really up to what is around you and what best fits your lifestyle.
Shopping locally and supporting a CSA means you know where your food is coming from, a benefit of growing value and importance in these uncertain times. Here at Lady Farmer, we are so grateful for Mo and Rob Moutoux, the farmers at Moutoux Orchard in Purcellville, Virginia for our fabulous CSA. Moutoux offers a whole diet plan that offers seasonal vegetables and fruits, dry goods such as flour, beans, and rice, a variety of meats, raw milk, yogurt, kefir, and fresh eggs! This comprehensive offering is somewhat rare when it comes to CSA’s, but they are out there and worth seeking out.
Are you already in a CSA, or joining one this year? Let us hear about your experience, and help spread the word about supporting local agriculture.