*Ideas and wording used taken from MACSAC, the Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition.
What is Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)?
CSA farms provide a regular delivery of sustainably grown produce (often weekly or every other week) to consumers during the growing season (approximately June to October). Those consumers, in turn, pay a subscription fee. But CSA consumers don't so much "buy" food from particular farms as become "members" of those farms. CSA operations provide more than just food; they offer ways for eaters to become involved in the ecological and human community that supports the farm.
What does CSA membership involve?
Photo 1: Sample of a weekly delivery of produce. La Finca CSA
Membership arrangements vary among farms. Some CSA operations deliver their food to the neighborhoods where members live, while others arrange for members to come to the farm and help make deliveries. Some CSA farms expect members to work on the farm at least once during the season while others only expect members to support the farm with their membership.
Although each CSA farm makes its own arrangements with its members and has its own expectations of them, being involved with a CSA operation always means sharing the rewards as well as the risks of farming. The rewards include: enjoying the freshest produce available, often harvested the same day you receive it; knowing where, how and by whom your food is being produced; having a direct connection with the people who produce your food; and supporting the kind of stewardship that is good for the land as well as its people. The risks include weather and pests. Though formidable for small, self-sustaining farmers, these risks are bearable when shared by a group of subscribers.
CSA’s in Minnesota & Wisconsin
Photo 2: Green beans. All-America Selections
Minnesota is fortunate to be home to a thriving Community Supported Agriculture movement. This innovative model for getting food from the field to the fork has existed in the Twin Cities area for two decades. We now have a solid, growing community of producers and consumers who are working together to develop a sustainable food and farming system. To find a CSA that works for you visit the Land Stewardship Project’s CSA directory (hot link ‘CSA directory’ to http://www.landstewardshipproject.org/csa.html )
Selecting a CSA
Photo 3: Tomatoes. David Zlesak
While membership in any CSA includes a share of fresh produce, other factors may vary from farm to farm. You may want to use this list when choosing a farm:
- Location: The CSA farms listed in this directory are located throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin. You should keep in mind the driving distance when considering your level of involvement and the involvement expectations of the farm.
- Pick-up site/Delivery Day: The CSA farms listed have various delivery or pick-up dates. Some farms will deliver your share to your door or to a common pick-up site, while others require you to pick up your share at the farm or help with share deliveries.
- Length of Season/Number of Deliveries: The length of season and number of deliveries vary among the farms. Most begin in May or June and run through September or October. Some farms have an optional winter delivery for an additional cost.
- Types of Produce and Other Food Items: All of the CSA farms offer a wide variety of seasonal vegetables. Some farms offer unusual varieties. Others add extras to their standard shares. Some give members the option to buy honey, fruit, flowers, eggs, wool/yarn, meat or other specialties at an additional cost.
- Opportunities for Involvement: Community building is an important part of the CSA approach; all farms encourage you to become involved. Most farms plan several farm events while others encourage their members to just "drop by." Some farms expect involvement in the farm as part of membership.