One of the best things about our little corner of Texas is the year-round growing climate! CSA programs are one of many ways to access the freshest seasonal fruits and vegetables from nearby farms.
“CSA” stands for “community supported agriculture” and is any system that connects a consumer to local agriculture. The idea is to financially support a farm through a subscription to a weekly or bi-weekly share of the harvest.
Generally, you don’t get to choose what is in your share; you are supporting the farm by accepting whatever is in season! Most programs provide a list of what is to come to subscribers before each share gets distributed.
In some cases, multiple farms and producers can band together to form a farm co-operative ‘co-op’, expanding to include eggs, dairy, honey, and/or prepared foods.
Depending on which one you join, the pricing and conditions vary. Some require purchasing for a whole season or year, while others can be purchased one share at a time. Some of them do deliver depending on your proximity to the farm, and most have pick up locations at markets or cafes throughout the region.
There are many variations on how farms are supported by consumers and how producers then deliver goods. A CSA is the most cost-effective structure because purchasing a subscription or share immediately compensates the farm without going through any third party retailers. The more directly your dollar goes back to the farms, the more they can focus on quality and reduce the risk of food waste!
Here are some great reasons to consider joining a CSA:
Support the Local Economy
As I mentioned, buying into an authentic CSA program ensures that every dollar is going directly into the hands of the farmers. It also ensures your loyalty and provides some advance certainty for the farms on how much produce they will be distributing once they harvest.
Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
When your fridge is overflowing with fresh produce that you know doesn’t have a long shelf life, it forces you to find a way to eat them so they don’t go to waste!
Discover New Foods and Recipes
It may seem overwhelming at first to try and figure out what to do with the stuff in your share that you’ve never heard of, but it’s actually kind of fun to get creative in the kitchen! Most CSAs even have an online community where other subscribers share how they utilize what they get in their shares each week!
Feel Connected to Your Community
I just can’t stress enough how important it is to feel like you are a part of something! Getting your produce right from the source creates a sense of wholesome satisfaction that you just can’t get from the grocery store. Most farmers will appreciate your supportand want to build a relationship with you so you keep coming back for more!
The quality and freshness of seasonal fruits and vegetables from right down the road is honestly priceless(!), but either way a CSA share will usually less expensive compared to buying organic produce at the grocery store.