What is a CSA?
So you’ve signed up, or you’re thinking of signing up, for a Farm Share – our term for a multi-farm CSA, but you may be wondering, what exactly is a CSA? Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a way to buy directly from a farmer (or food hub!), and more importantly, it’s an investment in a farm, and in your local community, economy, and food system. It’s a partnership between you and your farmer.
Though CSA has become a pretty well know term, this type of partnership between farmers and consumers is relatively recent -, especially in the US. The idea of CSAs started in Japan – where it was called teikei – by women concerned about the rise of imported food and pesticide use in the 1960s. Teikei literally translates as a partnership, though a more philosophical translation is “food with the farmer’s face,” which really gets to the connection between the food on your plate and the people who grow it!
A similar movement started in Europe around the same time but led more by the idea of biodynamic farming – the idea that all living organisms are dependent on one another. In the US, CSAs began in the late 1980s, on both coasts. The Twin Cities was actually one of the first sites for a CSA in the Midwest, which has proven to be fertile ground for the development of community farm models. Read more about the history of CSAs in some short articles here and here.
The Good Acre Farm Share is similar to traditional CSAs in many ways, but with a couple of important distinctions. As a food hub, we source the produce in your boxes from many different small local farms, instead of growing it all ourselves. With this method, we are able to get produce to a larger number of members than the average farm and support many farmers, as opposed to just one, in the process. Our Farm Share helps us work towards our goal of encouraging and creating a more sustainable food culture by connecting good local food to lots of people and growing the relationship between farmers, food, and your plates.
CSAs are a great way to support farmers but they aren’t the magic pill to a successful farm. According to a 2014 study, CSA farms have higher average farm incomes than USDA averages, but still not a living wage. Learn more about the challenges of CSA here. Farming is tough, no matter how you go about it, so your support of individual farms and food hubs like The Good Acre is essential to creating a sustainable food system!