Let’s talk about CSAs. While it may seem early to you, it is in fact a good time to be looking into the possibilities if you’re interested in joining a CSA this summer. So first, let’s begin with an explanation.
What is a CSA?
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. The basic concept is that you as a consumer make a commitment to a farm in the form of paying in advance (usually in the winter when a farmers working capital is low) for the right to a “share” of fresh produce every week for a prescribed number of weeks. Many of the farmers you meet at farmers markets also have a CSA program.
The concept was born in the 1960’s in Japan at a time when more of the food available was being imported to Japan rather than being grown locally, which corresponded with a loss of active farmland in the country. As this phenomenon was recognized, community members got together with farmers to address the situation in ways that were mutually beneficial. Contracts were signed where farmers agreed to provide fresh local produce when the families made a commitment to support the farm. Together they took a risk (as agriculture always involves risk) in the hopes of gaining something they’d been missing: fresh food and financial support respectively.
It didn’t make it the US until the mid 80’s where it was renamed Community Supported Agriculture, and since then has continued to grow in popularity. It’s a wonderfully flexible concept that can be tailored to farmers needs, and with so many options available to the consumer, folks who are interested are very likely to find the CSA that best fits their needs as well.
That’s my synopsis of the concept, but if you’re interested in some words from Robyn Van En, one of the founders of community supported agriculture here in the US, some 30 years ago, check out this website: http://www.context.org/iclib/ic42/vanen/
This site has some background on the concept as well: http://www.localharvest.org/csa/
Our CSA program
At the Lost Barn Farm our CSA runs for 20 weeks, or most of June thru October. We offer 2 share sizes, plus the option of a “market share” for folks whose families are perhaps less flexible about their vegetable choices. We include fruit in the shares when we have it, and offer a limited number of separate egg shares.
Full share example shares from 2013:
- week 2: 1 lb rhubarb, pint strawberries, 1/4 lb garlic scapes, 1 bunch salad turnips, 1 lb cauliflower, 1 1/2 lb fennel, 1 bunch kale, 1/2 lb pea shoots
- week 10: 3 cloves duganski garlic, 1 1/2 lbs Augusta potatoes, 2 european cukes, 2 lbs summer squash, 1 bunch edamame, 1 bunch Swiss chard, 1 lb tomatoes, 1 bunch Walla Walla sweet onions, 6 ears sweet corn
- week 20: 1 butternut squash, 1 stalk Brussels sprouts, 1 1/2 lbs parsnips, 1 bunch atlas carrots, 2 lbs sweet potatoes, 2 lbs red & yellow onions, 1 bunch celeriac, 2 lbs peppers, 1 bunch kale, 1 bunch broccoli rabe
Most of our CSA members pick up on Wednesdays, either at our booth at the Brattleboro farmers market in front of the Bratt Co-op, or here at the farm in East Putney. Members can also choose to pick up at the Saturday farmers market in West Brattleboro, or the Sunday farmers market in Putney across from the Co-op.
For more specifics about our program, as well as our 2014 CSA agreement form, toggle on over to our CSA page, under the header "What we Do" at the top of the page. You'll also find some of the reasons to join a CSA, and a list of the crops we plan to grow.