What is a CSA?
A CSA is a Community Supported Agriculture partnership between a local farm and a community of supporters, directly connecting the farmer who grows the food with the consumer who eats it. CSA shareholders cover the farm’s operating costs by purchasing what is described as a “share” or subscription to the farm for the growing season. The share consists of all the fresh vegetables, herbs, and fruits grown by the farmer between early spring and late fall. The farmer does the planting and harvesting, and the shareholder simply picks up the food that is ready each week during the growing season. Typically, the share consists of a weekly box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Subscription options are available and prices vary. A share may be purchased by a single person or an entire family. Furthermore, the cost of this fresh produce far outweighs the cost of purchasing the same amount of food in the grocery stores.
The food that a subscriber receives is fresher than anything in the supermarket, which means it is tastier and more nutritious. It is also good for the local economy–buying directly from family farms helps them stay in business. It provides a one-on-one trusting relationship that no amount of labeling or marketing can supply.
CSAs aren’t confined to produce. Some farmers include the option for shareholders to buy eggs, honey, cheese, fruit, flowers, or other farm products along with their vegetables.
Other benefits include exposure to new vegetables and new ways of cooking them, visiting the farm and learning how the food is grown, or seeing the animals that provide the other farm products. Kids tend to favor food from ‘their’ farm, even eating veggies they’ve never been interested in eating before, because they’ve seen how they are grown or even picked some themselves!
Some farms are organic; that means no chemicals. All farms provide ultra-fresh food with the best flavor and the most vitamins. Consumers are advised to talk with the farmer to determine if his facility has been organically certified or not.
Kathy Franks, owner and operator of Rock Valley Run Farm CSA Farm & Greenhouse in Auburn says, “Where else can you get fresh food from the field to your table in the same day?”
Some CSA farms in Geauga County include:
Blooming Patches (Newbury)
All The Above Farm (Chagrin Falls)
Maplestar Farm (Auburn)
Rock Valley Run CSA Farm & Greenhouse (Auburn)
Maple Valley Sugarbush & Farm (Chardon)
Birdsong Farm (Garrettsville)
For more local farm information visit www.localharvest.org.