As I mentioned in my New Year’s resolutions, one of my goals this year is to join my local CSA (community-supported agriculture) program. I had never heard of a CSA until about a year ago, when my friend in Minneapolis joined one, but ever since then it’s been one of those terms that I seem to hear everywhere.
An example of a CSA bounty
In a nutshell, a CSA is a program in which residents of a given area form a relationship with a local farm. Once a week or so during the spring, summer and fall, the farmers will bring their recently harvested produce — and sometimes meat, cheese and other dairy products — to a pre-determined location in the neighborhood, and the CSA members get together to divvy up the goods. (Many CSAs operate co-op style, wherein each CSA member is required to volunteer a few hours per month to do the sorting.) Then, the rest of the members pick up their goodies— usually either a half-share or a full share (based on standards set by the community), depending on household size — and voilà! There are many advantages of a CSA for city dwellers and farmers alike. CSA members get local, seasonal and often organic food to eat, which is better for them and the planet, since the food travels a shorter distance (from wherever the closest farm community is) and is grown with little to no pesticides or chemicals. Meanwhile, small farmers, who have been underpriced by many giant farm operations, have an outlet to sell their goods, helping them stay in business. If you’re interested in joining a CSA, check the USDA website, which contains links to several CSA directories, or just Google “[your neighborhood] + CSA.” I, for one, can’t wait for my first delivery in the spring. I might change my tune when Brussels sprout season comes along, but for now, I’m excited!