What is a CSA? CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. CSAs are partnerships between community residents and local farms designed to benefit them both. CSA members commit to purchasing and picking up a weekly "share" of their farmers harvest throughout the growing season (usually June through the end of October).
CSA members get a variety of produce in a weekly share. This is not a photo of an actual Brooklyn Beet share, but it gives you an idea. (photo taken by Suat Eman)
Farmers benefit because they receive payment for their vegetables in the early spring, right when they need it most, to purchase seeds and equipment for the coming year.
Members benefit because they receive unbelievably fresh and delicious vegetables and fruit throughout the summer and fall at a price lower than they would pay at the farmer's market and often less than at the grocery store.
CSA shares vary from week to week depending upon what is fresh and ready to be picked at the farm. Earlier in the summer, lettuces and herbs are more abundant with squash and potatoes more plentiful later in the season. From time to time, members may receive a vegetable or herb they've never eaten or cooked with. Getting to experience new produce is another benefit to joining a CSA.
Another aspect to a CSA is that members support farmers in the inherent risks of agriculture, which includes poor weather, disease, early frost, etc. CSAs are also rewarded during good growing seasons with more harvest. CSA farmers plan for such contingencies and use growing techniques to protect their harvest, minimize risk to members and optimize rewards.
Joining a CSA also means becoming part of a community. Brooklyn Beet CSA is an all-volunteer run organization. We require our members to volunteer at least 4 hours throughout the 20-week season. This usually means volunteering at a distribution (checking people in, unloading the crates of vegetables, etc.). Distributions have a friendly atmosphere with members talking about recipes and storage tips. You'll meet people who care about where their food comes from.
All in all, joining a CSA is a healthy choice. You'll eat vegetables & fruit that are in season. You'll meet other like minded people and you know where your food comes from.