Community Supported Agriculture

December 17, 2008 at 7:00 am

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a meeting on Community Supported Agriculture. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is definitely growing across the country. News stories and features on cable television have given CSAs wide exposure. Since CSAs were first established in the United States in the mid-80s they have continued to grow. Renewed consumer interest in where our food comes from, how it is grown and handled, as well as the desire to support local producers has really put CSAs in the spotlight.

Community Supported Agriculture is a direct farm-to-consumer arrangement between producers and those who are willing to purchase direct from a grower. For the consumer, it is an opportunity to be a part of what you eat and how it’s grown. For the producer, a CSA provides a known customer base with guaranteed revenue.

CSAs are unlike farmer’s markets in that a person must join the CSA. Families and individuals who join receive a share of produce every week during the growing season. CSAs typically require an up-front payment to cover the grower’s expenses. Those who join a CSA a called members, and members may purchase a “share” or sometimes a “half-share” of the season’s harvest.

For the Midwest, the typical season would begin in June/July and end in September/October. Depending on the CSA and the weather conditions for that year, the typical Midwest CSA would run 18-20 weeks. During this time, all members will receive a box of the current week’s harvest. Items will depend on the month and CSA but can include: green peas, beets, green onions, carrots, lettuces, tomatoes, peppers, melons, green beans, cucumbers, white onions, herbs, eggplant, and potatoes.

Shares range in price depending on the CSA and the locality, but generally from what I have seen a full share can range in cost from $300 to $700 for the season. A full share may give you around 8-12 items during the summer months and should be ample for a family of four, or two adults who cook at home regularly and eat a lot of vegetables. Some CSAs offer organic produce, and may charge more than CSAs that do not offer organic choices.

I do not know of any active CSAs in the community right now; however, I know of two individuals who have expressed interest in starting a CSA for 2009. If you are interested in starting a CSA, please give me a call at the office (419-238-1214) or drop me a note at

Examples of a few active CSAs:

Needle Lane Farms, Tipton, MI:

D.I.G. Local:

Friendship Farms CSA:

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