With Spring officially arriving on Thursday, CSA sign up season is in full swing.
When you sign up for a farm share or CSA, short for community supported agriculture, you directly support local agriculture by purchasing a share of the season’s harvest advance. Much like you might invest in a company by purchasing a share and hoping to share in the company’s success, a CSA allows you to invest in local farms by purchasing a share of the farm’s harvest. If it’s a good year, you’ll get a better return. In a poor year, you won’t.
With the increasing popularity of CSA programs, there is an incredible variety of programs to choose from. You can try a traditional single-farm or multi-farm vegetable share, a farm box program where you select your share each week, a meat or fish CSA, a grain program, or even a flower share.
A great way to find the right program for you is to visit a CSA fair. Local nonprofit TheMOVE hosts an excellent spring Farm Share Fair in Cambridge, which is being held on March 20, 2014, at Cambridge College. This year’s vendor list includes some Belmont Farmers’ Market favorites (The Farm School, Soluna Garden Farm), as well as familiar faces from the Belmont Food Collaborative’s Fall & Winter Farm Share Fair (Boston Organics, Enterprise Farm, Farmer Dave’s, First Root Farm, Red Fire Farm, Shared Harvest CSA).
If you’re concerned about the cost of a traditional CSA share, consider this comparison from World PEAS CSA. They compared a sample July share box with the same items purchased at Stop & Shop. The World PEAS large share box cost about $40, and contained 11 organic items. The same items at Stop & Shop cost $1.73 more, with only 2 organic items.
The small World PEAS share box cost $27, $2.26 more than at Stop & Shop. The Stop & Shop basket contained only 1 organically grown items, as opposed to 9 in the World PEAS share.
While the cost of a CSA may seem significant, it’s actual quite comparable to what you might pay at a grocery store. Better yet, your food will be far fresher. You also get the benefit of knowing your farmer and knowing how your food is grown. And, you’ll be supporting local farmers, too.