31 Mar 5 Wonderful Reasons to Join a CSA this season
There is nothing quite like visiting a farm on a warm summer day, the sun on your skin, the dirt under your feet, a ripe, juicy tomato in one hand and a fresh haul of fruits and vegetables in the other. This is extra special in New England, where our short growing season amplifies the reward that comes with consuming fresh produce picked from the farm down the street. We should be rewarding ourselves with this treat as much as possible while we’re able, and one way to do that is through a Community Supported Agriculture program.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), as the name implies, is a mutually beneficial agreement where members of the community pledge support to a farm’s operations in exchange for a share of the harvest on a regular schedule, usually each week. In this way, the growers and consumers provide mutual support and share the risks and benefits of food production.
5 Reasons to Join a CSA
1. It is an excellent way to participate directly in the food system.
Whenever you buy food you are participating in the food system, but in what way? Your dollar at the supermarket is paying many different sectors—transportation costs , the farmers (minimally), the interest groups, manufacturers, and middle men. Handing your dollar directly to the farmer ensures that they get more of the profit that can then be put back into the farm. This is especially important because most farmers, (especially small scale farmers) make just enough money to keep up with production costs and paying their workers.
2. You get the freshest, Earth-conscious foods.
Getting food to the supermarket is a long process that requires travel, processing, extra packaging and energy-using systems to keep the produce fresh long enough to sell. Along with the environmental impacts of such practices, this process and large scale agriculture affect taste and can mute the complex flavors and nutrients in the produce. Since the food from your CSA is produced very close to your home, you are getting a product that was picked at peak ripeness (usually within one day), transported a very short distance and delivered to you in its most unadulterated form.
3. …And you get these foods at a cheaper price (usually).
This will vary by each household and their personal food budgeting, but generally speaking members are given quality, usually organic or pesticide free produce which would cost you more if you were to buy it in the supermarket each week. The trade-off is that more money is being put up front instead of in smaller increments.
4. You get to build a relationship with your farmer.
The effect of a CSA can transcend the simple transaction of money for food. The ability to get to know your farmers and develop a relationship of trust with those that provide food for you and your family is so important. Through talking to your farmer each week you can gain much insight into how the food system functions, how your food is grown, what is the best way to use it, and the challenges that they face. Many CSA’s also distribute their knowledge in newsletters or other publications each week. These people can become a friend and an ally in your pursuit of a healthy lifestyle!
5. Helps to build community.
Through interaction with not just farmers but other CSA members at pick up sites, or farm events, community grows between many different types of people. Local farms are very entrenched in the local community and keep green space available, and help the surrounding environment. Many offer benefits such as camps, events and especially education to the surrounding community.
About New Dawn Farm’s CSA:
New Dawn Farm’s CSA is a unique program in that we offer shares in multiple sizes to ensure that you are not getting more (or less!) produce than you can use. In addition, members are given the opportunity to pick their own flowers and certain produce right from the farm! Our farm also donates a share of our crops each week to Joan’s Pantry in Chesterfield, where other families reap the benefits of our fields. Other unique characteristics of our CSA program include: payment plans, a free consultation with our Registered Dietitian, weekly recipes, and multiple pick-up locations as well as delivery of your goods.
Hope to see you around the farm this season!
Written by Stephanie Bush, Keene State Dietetic Intern, 2017