Why I buy food from a Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) Farmer

It would be hard to overstate the positive effects of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in my family life. Food, water, air, shelter; things we need for survival; daily gifts we each can take for granted.  The quality may vary but we live in a place where they exist in abundance. Participating in the CSA system connects me and my family to each of these facets of life, making us less cavalier about what we have.

Food – reduced dependence on automated food production; appreciation for fresh fruits and veggies.

Water – appreciation for the seasons where we live and our CSA food is grown.  It rained a lot in Frederick, Maryland this year and we saw the effect on the farm production first hand. We get a better understanding of what it takes to get food from farm to the table.

Air – you may need to dig a little deeper into the connection between clean air and your food on the table to see it.  Less shipping from far away farms means cleaner air; effects of weather, humidity, rain vs drought all play a part in healthy plants.

Shelter – this is so general and varied in all its forms that I am not making a farming correlation but I have to say that my home feels better in every way when food is taken care of.  Few things satisfy more than making a delicious meal for family and friends and feeling safe in your own home.  And few things make people feel more vulnerable anywhere than when they cannot feed themselves or their family.

Buying a share of the produce from a local farm each year is an adventure.  The bargain I make with our CSA, Pleasant Hill Produce, is to give them money to invest in their crops and then during the growing season to receive a weekly “share” of the produce.  The weekly batch of veggies and fruit changes over the season depending on yield, weather, insects, and other forces of nature.

Right off the bat, investing in a CSA one learns, or is reminded, that there is a lot more to producing food that sustains life than going to the grocery store.  One of the cruelest information shams we give to our children is to allow the belief that bargain hunting is the basis for survival.  Survival is determined by knowledge and the flexibility to use it well.  Sometimes there are bargains; some of them are in grocery stores.

In the USA it is probably safe to say that the majority of the population gives little thought to how we get the things we need for survival.  Money is the system we use to exchange goods and services, so that is our focus.  But that is a big step away from understanding what it takes to stay alive.  CSA is a way of contributing to society at the most basic level; an investment in sustainable food production.

How it works in our house

The weekly budget.

For the 2018 season our CSA purchase was for a household of 2.  A small share of vegetables, fruit, and 1 dozen eggs cost $36.24 per week.  Most weeks we spent about $15.00 a week to add a few things; eggs, a veggie to round out a recipe or a meal.

Average $50.00 – 55.00 per week

Pick up once a week.  Other errands are done at the same time making the driving cost minimal.  The few added miles costs less than one dollar in gas and wear and tear on the family car.

The food

CSA - a weekly small share. Veggies, fruit and eggs.

The produce will change over the season, you will like some more than others.

What we like, we consume or preserve.  We learn what works well in the freezer or small batch canning.  We find creative ways to use veggies that are over abundant and what I’ll just call “gamey” ( how much kale is too much? )

All vegetable waste goes into the compost for our own garden.

Resources – nutritious food is grown in healthy, nutrient rich soil.

Better understanding of growing food leads to better resource management.  Land and water; composting and balancing nutrients for healthy soil.

Community Supported Agriculture is an investment, right here at home, in future seasons of eating.