Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) reflects an innovative and resourceful strategy to connect local consumers with local farmers; develop a regional food supply and local economy; maintain a sense of community; encourage land stewardship and reduce waste; and honour the knowledge and experience of small scale growers. As of January 2005, there are over 1500 CSA farms across the US and Canada.
CSA is a partnership of mutual commitment between a farm and a community of supporters which provides a direct link between the production and consumption of food. Members support the bottom line of a farm’s yearly operating budget by purchasing a share of the season’s harvest. In doing so, CSA members make a commitment to support the farm throughout the season, and assume the risks and bounty of growing food along with the farmer or grower. In return, the farm provides, to the best of its ability, a healthy supply of seasonal fresh produce throughout the growing season. Becoming a member creates a responsible relationship between people and the food they eat, the land on which it is grown, and those who grow it.
This mutually supportive relationship between local farmers and community members helps create an economically stable farm operation in which members are assured of their food security through the highest quality produce, often at below retail prices. In return, farmers and growers are guaranteed a reliable market for a diverse selection of crops, and do not have to rely entirely on farmers markets or middle-men distribution channels.