Community Supported Agriculture

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) consists of municipal residents who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farm becomes "the community's farm", with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production. Typically, CSA members provide initial payments to farmers to allow them to purchase supplies, allowing the farmer to conserve his or her own financial resources. In return, CSA members receive shares in the farm's yield throughout the growing season, as well as the satisfaction gained from directly participating in food production. Members also share in the risks of farming, including poor harvests due to unfavorable weather or pests. By direct sales to community members who have provided the farmer with working capital in advance, growers potentially receive better prices for their crops, gain some financial security, and are relieved of much of the burden of marketing. CSAs have been formed by consumer groups and farmers, the extended agricultural community, community residents, agricultural development councils, agricultural extension services, granges and restaurateurs.

Advantages

Community Supported Agriculture offers the following benefits:

Limitations

Community Supported Agriculture can have the following limitations:

How to Use This Tool

The resounding success of farmer's markets across the country suggests that there is enough public interest in access to fresh locally produced food to support CSAs. Farmers will recognize the advantages of establishing a CSA, but running a CSA may go beyond the usual skill set of traditional farmers. Municipal agricultural development councils, agricultural extension services, granges and other agricultural agencies will be able to assist individuals or groups of farmers by providing specialized training and connecting farmers with others who have successfully integrated this approach into their operations.

Examples

Related References

Related Tools

Landscapes2 Relevance

Agriculture has a long history in Chester County, and it continues to be vitally important to the County's economy and culture. Agricultural soils are irreplaceable after they are developed for non-agricultural uses. This tool supports the Landscapes2 Goal for Agriculture and the Farmland Preservation Objective (Objective A1) of Chapter 7, Planning for Agriculture. Landscapes2 also contains Objective A1: "Farmland Preservation: Continue to support farmland preservation efforts within the county by private landowners, public agencies, corporations, foundations, and non-profit organizations."