By Rita Klavinski, Michigan State University Extension
It may still be winter, but now is a good time to consider signing up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share program in your area. According to the USDA National Agriculture Library, a CSA consists of a community of individuals who support a farm operation through a purchased share. In return the shareholders receive a weekly allotment of the farm’s harvest during the growing season.
One day of the week typically is designated to receive your share of that week’s harvest. The share will vary from week to week depending on what is in season. A typical CSA provides produce but there are also farms that provide meat, eggs, honey and herbs. Farms may also collaborate for a CSA with one providing the produce and another supplying meat or another item.
A CSA is a great opportunity for those who do not have their own garden to enjoy fresh locally grown vegetables. Since the produce is often harvested within a day of the pick up or delivery date it is of top quality and freshness. If your share has items that you have not eaten before ask the farm for suggestions on how to prepare or use the item in your meals. Often a CSA will provide recipes for items that may be unfamiliar.
As a CSA supporter you are participating directly in food production, one of the components of a community food system. By purchasing directly from the farmer you are spending your food dollars with a local business that will likely reinvesting the money locally.
To find CSA opportunities in your area, contact your local farmers market manager to inquire if there are vendors who offer a CSA. A listing of farm markets can be found in the Michigan Farmers Market Association database or the Michigan Farm Market & Agricultural Tourism Directory. Another source is your local chamber of commerce that may have a listing of farmers markets in the area.
Michigan State University Extension educators working across Michigan provide community food systems educational programming and assistance. For more information, you can contact an educator through MSU Extension’s “ Find an Expert” search tool using the keywords “community food systems.”
This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit http://www.msue.msu.edu. To contact an expert in your area, visit http://expert.msue.msu.edu, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).