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What is a CSA and why should you sign up for one?

written by

Meg Peery

posted on

January 2, 2024

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Where it all started:

Here's a story that starts with something bad and ends with something good.

Japan, 1956: A Japanese doctor reports an epidemic of an "unknown disease of the central nervous system," marking the official discovery of Minamata disease. [1]

The cause of the disease turns out to be industrial chemical contamination of nearby Minamata Bay. Thousands who source food from its waters are subsequently found to be affected with severe methylmercury poisoning.

Japan, 1965:
As national concern grows over food safety and chemical contamination in the wake of the Minamata disaster, a group of women creates Teikei - a model of food sourcing and distribution that emphasizes mutually supportive producer-consumer relationships. [2]

By the 1970s and '80s this collaborative model spreads to other communities worldwide. In the United States, it becomes known as "Community Supported Agriculture," or CSA.

What is CSA?

Community Supported Agriculture—usually called simply "CSA" for short—is a relationship-based, mutually supportive model of farming and food distribution that connects consumers directly with farmers for win-win collaboration.

The Japanese women who pioneered the CSA model in the 1960s disliked the way agriculture and food had become impersonal, chemical-laden, processed, unhealthy and destructive to small local farms and farming families. [3] They were looking for an alternative model that would support local farmers, provide wholesome food to consumers, and allow communities to connect directly with the people and land that produced their food.

Their idea spread.

The first Teikei-inspired CSA farm in North America was founded in Massachusetts in 1984. [4] Today, there are thousands of CSA farms in the US alone. [5] It is a model that continues to boom in popularity as demand for clean, local food has increased, and its appeal accelerated during the Covid-19 pandemic when weaknesses in the industrial food supply became starkly apparent to everyday people.

How does CSA typically work?

When you sign up for a CSA membership, you pay in advance for a share of a local farm's upcoming harvest. [6] 

In return, CSA members receive boxes of farm-fresh, nutritious foods at regular intervals from the farm's harvest throughout the growing season. 

Their early investment in the upcoming harvest softens the risk that is often shouldered by farmers alone, by sharing it with community—allowing farms to grow, become economically stable, and continue producing high quality foods for communities.

What makes our CSA arrangement unique?

Our arrangement with Saint Luke Farm offers some unique alternatives to the standard weekly delivery/pickup schedule used by most CSA farms. 

Instead of weekly delivery or pickup, we offer every-other-week frequency when you select UPS Home Delivery or Farm Store Pick-Up as your delivery method. (12 boxes) 

Or you can choose the equivalent of once-a-month delivery—we will deliver once every 4 weeks to our Northern Virginia drop sites when we come to deliver our pastured meats and clean, wholesome farm products on our usual delivery schedule. (6-7 boxes)

It's our hope that this unique flexibility will encourage you to take the plunge, enjoy farm-fresh veggies all summer long, and introduce you to the fun, flavor, and connectedness of this community-based model of food production.

Why you should sign up

If you still need convincing, here are 25 reasons to join—one for each week that our Farm Friends will be enjoying the freshest beyond-organic produce from Saint Luke Farm this 2024 CSA season...

fresh crunchy leafy juicy handpicked beyond-organic chopped diced grilled sliced nutritious clean wholesome sauteed raw dipped dressed steamed skewered healthy summery delicious vibrant seasonal yes

Sign up here.

***

Notes:

[1] https://www.glynwood.org/conne...
[2] https://www.glynwood.org/conne...
[3] https://growingsmallfarms.ces...
[4] https://growingsmallfarms.ces...
[5] https://www.localharvest.org/d...
[6] https://www.nofavt.org/about/b...

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