National Garden Week: What is a CSA and How Do You Find One?

gardenproduceHappy National Garden Week!

If you’ve ever had a consult with a Vibrant Dietitian, you know that our dietary recommendations go way beyond “eat more vegetables and fruits.”

Taking in the considerations of pesticide use, and the carbon and economical footprints involved with growing produce in Mexico and shipping elsewhere–we often suggest our patients buy produce locally, in season, and organic.  Joining a CSA can be a great way to put that advice into practice!

What is a CSA?

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and provides a way for consumers to buy produce directly from a farmer in their community. Each spring, a farmer will offer a certain amount of membership shares for purchase.

How does a CSA work?

Locals support the farm by paying a fixed amount up front, usually in early Spring. In turn, the farm will distribute a box of fresh produce to the members each week of the growing season.

Eating-LocallyShares usually range from $200-$600 for the entire year depending on the package you choose. The farm benefits by receiving funds for this year’s crops up front.  Membership shares allow them to concentrate their marketing and advertising efforts early, so they can focus on their true passions-farming-during the growing season.

Consumers benefit by gaining affordable access to local, seasonal, and often organic produce while putting money back into the local economy.  Food transportation costs are obviously also significantly reduced.

Members often will be allowed to visit the farm during the season, which can be a great way for children to learn that produce comes from the ground and not from a grocery store shelf.

Interested in finding a CSA in your area? Check out some of these helpful links that provide directories by locality:

  1. USDA Local Food Directory
  2. CSA Signup Day Directory
  3. Local Harvest
  4. Check out your local farmer’s market during the spring and summer for farmers who participate
  5. Or simply Google search your city + “CSA” to find something close by

–Cat Simmons MS RD

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