What is CSA?
Community supported agriculture (CSA) is a partnership between farmers and the local community, in which the responsibilities, risks and rewards of farming are shared. Benefits are enjoyed by all sides: farmers for instance can receive a more stable and secure income and closer connection with their community, and consumers can benefit by eating fresh healthy food, feeling more connected to the land where their food is grown and learning new skills.
The most common produce for CSAs is vegetables, but they can also include eggs, poultry, bread, fruit, pork, lamb, beef and dairy produce. CSAs are also developing around woodlands for firewood and also more recently fish.
Benefits of CSA
Benefits to local communities
- consumers benefit from receiving fresh food from a known source
- the environmental benefits of fewer 'food miles', less packaging and ecologically sensitive farming with improved animal welfare
- a local economy enhanced by higher employment, more local processing, local consumption and a re-circulation of money through 'local spend'
- educating people about varieties of food, it's production methods and costs
- having an influence over the local landscape and encouraging more sustainable farming
Benefits to farmers
- a more secure income which improves business planning and time to concentrate on farming
- a higher and fairer return for their products by selling direct to the public
- increased involvement in the local community; the opportunity to respond directly to consumers' needs
- receive help with labour and planning initiatives for the future
How CSA can work for you
There is no fixed way of organising CSA, it's a framework to inspire communities to work together with their local farmers, so it's up to you how this works best for you and your local community. Here are some examples of initiatives:
- grow vegetables to supply a weekly box for members throughout the year
- sponsor an apple tree and harvest its fruit
- buy shares in a cow and receive interest in cheese
- rent-a-vine from an organic vineyard
- help with the running of an organic farm and supporting a farm shop
- rent a plot of farmland and have vegetables grown on your behalf
- receive a regular loaf of locally baked bread
- receive a monthly supply of organic meat
- produce vegetables or meat for a group of committed members who pay up front
- receive help with sowing, weeding, harvesting and packing from enthusiastic members
- enable social events on the farm
- rent a field to the local community to grow their own vegetables
- get financial support from your community who pay up front for their produce