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Community Supported Agriculture: Fresh, Direct and Delicious

CSA produce is super fresh.

CSA produce is super fresh.

Finding Your CSA

A visit to the Local Harvest website will help you find CSAs in your area. You can also contact local farms to ask if they have a CSA group. Most cities have multiple options for CSAs—even my mother’s small town in Wisconsin has several to choose from! To find the right CSA for you, consider a few things:
Philosophy. Do you prefer to purchase organic, pesticide-free produce? Do you only buy free-range eggs and meat? Would you like your purchase to support programs that help the homeless or victims of domestic violence? Do you like your produce planted, maintained and harvested by inner-city youth? Do you want to support a farm operated by three generations of the Smith Family?
There’s a CSA for that.
One major appeal of joining a CSA is the relationship between the people who grow the food and the people who consume it. Your CSA should support the philosophies you believe in. When researching a potential CSA, give them a call to learn more about the group—or, better yet, stop by the farm to say hello!
Delivery. Some CSAs deliver directly to your home, while others have pick-up locations at local businesses, farmers’ markets or the farm itself. When selecting a CSA, ask about these options—if they don’t deliver, make sure the pick-up time and location is convenient for you before you register.
Price: Depending on the size of the farm, how much produce you want to receive, what add-ons you select (dairy, meat, etc.) and how often you’d like to have a share, membership prices can range from $10 to $75 per week. The price can seem steep when you pay for several weeks (or even months!) up front, but compare it to how much you spend on produce at the grocery store every week. An investment in a CSA at the beginning of the season usually means your grocery bills will be much lower each week.
Want to save even more money? Ask your CSA if they offer discounts in exchange for working the field one day per month. It’s not for everyone, but gardening is a great way to get outside, take in the sunshine and learn even more about the food you’re eating.
Next: What to Do When You Get Stuff That You Have No Idea How to Eat.

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  1. Brittany says:

    I can’t say enough about how awesome it is to have fresh produce and to know who’s growing it!
    My best tip would be to invest in a cookbook for CSAs. My favorite is From Asparagus to Zucchini. It lists produce alphabetically and then offers a handful of recipes for each. There are other books too, but I’ve found that to be hugely helpful.
    Also, in my area the weekly CSA works out to be cheaper per week but being a family of two that’s a lot of produce. We split our CSA with our friends and alternate pickup weeks.