What is a CSA

Update January 2017:   The journal entry below is still on point but describes a traditional CSA which is not the current model for the farm. Terembry Farm now works with Simpleherbals to offer a seasonally-based “California-style” herbal and health-focused CSA offering free-range eggs, specialty greens that are great for health like wheatgrass and sunflower shoots, culinary herbs, and medicinal herbs & herbal teas.  

California-style CSAs originated in southern California a few years ago to offer fresh food and unique items without requiring a full season’s payment up front.  Every other week an email goes out on Monday with a list of offerings and members pre-pay through PayPal  prior to the drop off.  

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What is a CSA?

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is  a way for you to to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. Here are the basics: a farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Those interested purchase a share (aka a “membership” or a “subscription”) and in return receive a box of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.

Advantages for farmers:

  • Get to spend time marketing the food early in the year, before their 16 hour days in the field begin
  • Receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm’s cash flow
  • Have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow

Advantages for consumers:

  • Eat ultra-fresh food, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits
  • Get exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cooking
  • Farm visits, including a harvest dinner with other CSA members
  • Develop a relationship with your farmer who grows your food
  • Learn more about how food is grown

Shared Risk
There is an important concept woven into the CSA model that takes the arrangement beyond the usual commercial transaction. That is the notion of shared risk. When originally conceived, the CSA was set up differently than it is now. A group of people pooled their money, bought a farm, hired a farmer, and each took a share of whatever the farm produced for the year. If the farm had a tomato bonanza, everyone put some up for winter. If a plague of locusts ate all the greens, people ate cheese sandwiches.

While we are not a strictly CSA farm, as we will also sell at farmers markets, to restaurants, etc., still, the idea that “we’re in this together” remains.

The idea of shared risk is part of what creates a sense of community among members, and between members and the farmers. If a hailstorm takes out all the peppers, everyone is disappointed together, and together we can cheer on the winter squash and broccoli.

– adapted from Local Harvest