Thinking about signing up for a CSA but want to learn more about the idea before you commit? Read on.

Over the last 20 years, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become a popular way for consumers 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. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a "membership" or a "subscription") and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.

This arrangement creates several rewards for both the farmer and the consumer. In brief...

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
* Usually get to visit the farm at least once a season
* Find that kids typically favor food from "their" farm – even veggies they've never been known to eat
* Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown

It's a simple enough idea, but its impact has been profound. Tens of thousands of families have joined CSAs, and in some areas of the country there is more demand than there are CSA farms to fill it. Read on...

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Comment by James Samuel on April 20, 2009 at 3:07pm
Thank you Jay - as we are in the process of setting up our first CSA on Waiheke, I will connect you to some of the poeple on our team. Excellent!

Comment by Jay Robinson on April 20, 2009 at 2:05am
Thanks for posting this Samuel. It is well past-time that we take up CSA's here in NZ. Back in the States I was heavily involved with at least four CSA's over ten years, including work in marketing, getting members, multiproducer CSA's, congregationally-supported agriculture, work-shares, rurally-based and distributed CSA's, etc. I'd be happy to be an additional resource in this area, for anyone with questions....

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