It’s CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Season
Now that spring is fully upon us and the produce is really starting to come in, many folks are beginning to think about finding or joining a CSA. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and is basically a way of sharing in the farmer’s production year. The basic idea is that one enrolls or purchases a share in the production of a farm for a year or a season. In return, you are first in line for the production, but you also share in the risk of crop failures and the ups and downs of the season. CSAs aren’t for everyone. Typically you pay an enrollment fee and then receive either a weekly (in the case of produce) or monthly box of products.
We run one of the few meat CSAs in our area of the country. Our CSAs enable our customers to get their beef at nearly the same price as purchasing an entire half beef, but they get it in 20 pound increments each month. Since we need to estimate our beef needs 18 months ahead, having a core of CSA members really helps us to plan. It is also much more efficient for us to divide a beef into 12 equal shares than to sell by the individual cut at the markets (although at least half of our business is still done by the cut).
Local Harvest had a great article on finding and choosing a more traditional garden produce CSA. When considering whether or not to join a CSA, there are a few questions that you might ask yourself.
- Do I like to cook and does my schedule allow me to make homemade meals most evenings?
- Will it be fun to vegetables that are new to me?
- How will I handle excess produce? (Do you have a neighbor who would like to get some if you get “behind”?) Feeling bad about wasting food is one of the top reasons former CSA members site for not renewing.
- Am I willing to accept the unknowns involved in “shared risk”?
Shopping around for a CSA is also a good idea. It might be a good idea to ask if you can talk to some of the existing customers. Also find out how long the farmer has been doing CSAs. They can be a bit tricky to manage until the farmer gets the hang of planning. It’s great to help out someone just starting out, but that should be an informed decision.CSAs can be a great fit and can benefit consumer and producer.
At Wild Type Ranch, our CSA customers usually get the best beef, and are the first ones in line when the supply gets tight. Good luck and bon appetit!