In Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA for short, members buy a share of the farm’s produce for the growing season. Every week, members get a box of the freshest veggies at the peak of ripeness. St. Clare Garden’s season is 20 weeks long, from mid-June to October.
Owning a CSA share is a great way to forge a deep connection with the food you eat. Members get produce when they are at their best, and the list of the freshest vegetables changes over the course of a season. So a CSA share allows you to truly eat with the changing seasons.
It also forms a direct connection between the member and the farm: members are effectively setting aside a share of the farm’s produce for the entire year.
Being a member of a CSA also supports small-scale sustainable farming that goes beyond eating at locavore restaurants and shopping at farmers’ markets. A CSA allows a farmer to plan the season in advance, knowing that members get to share an equal amount of each week’s bounty. Unpredictable customers like restaurants and farmers’ markets keep farmers guessing. With all the uncertainty involved in farming, any guarantees go a long way!
Common reasons NOT to buy a CSA share, and why you should ignore them:
It’s expensive. Yes, the up-front price tag may seem like a lot, but when you buy a CSA, you’ll be enjoying an up to 15% discount on buying those same vegetables at a farmers’ market.
I don’t cook enough. St. Clare Garden has four share options, to fit different household sizes and eating habits. If you cook at home at least once a week, we have a share for you!
I’m worried about food waste. The value of food is a paradox. Imagine the crown jewel of locally-produced vegetables: the heirloom tomato. You simply can’t get them in big grocery chains (though they have some tricky-looking, mediocre-tasting imitators out there these days). This tomato represents hours of work by a farmer; weeks of water, sun, and wind; years of careful breeding by seed savers; and hundreds or thousands of years of soil formation by tiny critters and the forces of erosion. It’s sweetness, tartness, visual beauty, and tender texture are unmatched. True, it is a thing of great value, and a shame to waste one. But visit any farm that grows them. For each batch of tomatoes that make it to market, many have bruises, are knocked to the ground by wind, are eaten by critters, or have blemishes. All these are returned to the soil, and feed the next crop. As long as the loop stays closed and the tomato returns to the soil, it isn’t a waste to a farmer. True, our industrial-scale food system wastes a heartbreaking amount of food. When food production happens on a human scale, like in a CSA, uneaten food can become an asset. If you compost your food waste, you have no reason to mourn an uneaten veggie.