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Community Supporter Agriculture

Community Supported Agriculture: Cultivating better food and closer communities

Saturday, August 24, 2013 by: Kelsey Radwick
Tags: Community Supporter Agriculture, local food, farmers

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(NaturalNews) Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is an alternative, locally based model of agriculture and food distribution that creates a partnership between farmers and the local communities with a number of social, economic, and environmental benefits for participating members. Each CSA farm is organized differently depending on the specific needs of the community, but most operate under similar frameworks that emphasize (1) stronger consumer-producer relationships, (2) environmentally sustainable farming methods, (3) quality foods, and (4) shared farming risk.

Structure

A CSA farm, although each one functions somewhat differently, is one to which a network of individuals have pledged to support one or more local farms. When someone joins CSA, they are buying a "share" of produce from a local farmer. During the growing season, people can either pay a determined amount or volunteer on the farm for a certain number of hours in exchange for part of the farm's output. Usually, these are shares of fruits and vegetables, but can also sometimes include meat, dairy products, eggs, herbs, cut flowers, honey, and even firewood.
This kind of farming operates with a much greater degree of involvement of consumers and other stakeholders than usual, resulting in a stronger consumer-producer relationship. It also means that all members share in the risks and benefits of farming. If a storm or pests destroy a crop, the community buffers the blow instead of the individual farmer. If a crop is exceedingly plentiful one year, the entire farming community feels the effect.

Advantages for consumers

• Fresh, organic, local food from a known source
• Enhanced flavor and nutritional benefits that are only possible on small, organic farms. Due to the sustainable farming techniques used by most CSA farms (crop rotation, cover crops, soil enrichment, integrated pest management, etc.) the food produced often has a much higher vitamin and nutrient content. Additionally, most crops are free of the harmful chemicals, pesticides, and GMOs used on commercial farms.
• Increased understanding of food production
• Reconnection with the land
• Increased sense of community. CSA allows members to develop relationships with farmers and with other like-minded, participating community members.
• Improved well-being through a better diet, physical work, and socializing within the CSA community

Advantages for Farmers

• A more secure income which improves business planning and time to concentrate on farming (rather than marketing)
• Higher and fairer return for products by selling directly to the public
• Achieve a greater and more stable market presence to compete with industrial farms
• Elevated status in the eyes of consumers
• Increased involvement in the local community

Benefits for CSA communities

• Improved social networks, greater sense of community and trust, and increased sense of social responsibility
• Environmental benefits, including fewer "food miles," less packaging, ecologically sensitive farming, improved animal welfare, and use of sustainable farming practices
• An enhanced local economy with more local processing, local consumption, and recirculation of money through the local community
• Return of local distinctiveness and care for the local land. Also, CSA farms can help monitor development since buying from a local farmer gives open spaces (farms and pastures) an economic value and monetary reason to be preserved.
• A shift in attitudes about food and farming and therefore a shift in "food culture" away from our current parasitic relationship with the land. Additionally, CSA creates less dependence on goods trucked into supermarkets from miles away and a higher value on foods grown sustainably without land and labor exploitation.

Sources for this article include:

http://www.uky.edu/Ag/NewCrops/marketing/csa.pdf
http://www.prescott.edu/community-supported-agriculture/about.html
http://www.localharvest.org/csa/
http://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/pubs/csa/csa.shtml
http://www.soilassociation.org/communitysupportedagriculture
http://www.justfood.org/csa

About the author:
My name is Kelsey Radwick, and I am a native of the beautiful city of Seattle, Washington. I am just another health nut who loves her hearty salads, grass-fed meats, and healthy homemade ice creams. I recently assisted with the compilation of the popular Ebook "Paleo Ice Cream: 31 Healthy Recipes For The Primal Sweet Tooth," which can be found at www.paleoicecreamrecipes.com.

To learn more about me and my interests beyond health and wellness, please visit my website at www.kelseyradwick.com.

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