CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture; what it means is the subscribers pay upfront for their produce, thereby guaranteeing themselves a share of the harvest and providing the farmer with the money needed for seeds, labour, tillage, amendments, irrigation and so on. This makes it possible for the farmer to grow for their community without going deep into debt every spring. This also allows for the whole community, farmer and food lover, to share in the risks and benefits of the harvest. If it is a difficult growing season there may be less variety or abundance, yet if things go well the subscribers benefit accordingly.
The CSA alternative is a locally-based economic model, and it has many benefits other than giving the farmer seed money before the season starts. When the farmer can grow without fear of bankruptcy of crippling debt they are able to do a better job and produce more high quality food. CSA’s give farmer’s job security, regardless of variables like weather, which the farmer has no control over. Also, because the farmer is selling directly to the customer, there is no grocery store or wholesaler taking a cut. This doesn’t mean food in a CSA is cheaper than the local grocery store, but it does mean the food from your local CSA is fresher and produced in a more ethical, sustainable way that takes things like fair wages for good work and the a healthy ecosystem into account.
To sum it up, a CSA is a food distribution system that enables food lovers to support local agriculture, give farmers job security, take care of the environment and guarantee themselves a share of fresh, healthy local produce at a fair price.