Community Supported Agriculture
A method of marketing used by some fruit, vegetable and livestock producers is known as community supported agriculture (CSA). A grower contacts interested buyers at the beginning of the season and offers shares to purchase. Customers buy the shares or subscriptions for the season. Payment for the season is preferably made up front.
As fruit and vegetable crops are harvested during the growing season, they are delivered directly or to key distribution points each week for customers to pick up. Some farms allow their customers to provide labor in exchange for part or all of the value of the subscription. According to the 2007 Census of Agriculture (2009), more than 12,500 U.S. farms reported marketing products through a CSA.
Community Supported Ag, National Ag LIbrary, USDA.
2007 Census of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service, USDA, 2009.
- The ABCs of the New CSAs, Gourmet.com, 2008 - The CSA concept now extends way beyond weekly vegetable deliveries to include CSA-based restaurants, locally grown meat and wild seafood.
- Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs), Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas, NCAT.
- Community Supported Agriculture Farms: Management and Income, Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
- Community Supported Agriculture Resource Guide for Farmers, Growing Small Farms, North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service.
- Community Supported Agriculture Resources for Farmers or Producers, Alternative Farming Systems Information Center.
- CSA Forum, LocalHarvest - This organization's CSA Forum is its most popular, with over 1,700 messages covering 350 topics related to community supported agriculture.
- Facts on Direct-to-Consumer Food Marketing, Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), USDA, 2009 - This fact sheet provides an overview of the growing importance of direct marketing to U.S. farmers by summarizing data from the 2007 Census of Agriculture and comparing it with data from 1997 and 2002.
- Farmers Markets and Direct-to-Consumer Marketing, AMS, USDA.
- Find CSA Farms, LocalHarvest - Search by city, state or zip code to locate a CSA farm near you. More than 800 CSAs are listed in the organization's directory.
- FoodRoutesFood Systems, Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, University of Wisconsin.
- The History of Community Supported Agriculture, Part I, Community Farms in the 21st Century: Poised for Another Wave of Growth, The New Farm, 2004.
- The History of Community Supported Agriculture, Part II, CSA's World of Possibilities, The New Farm, 2004.
- Local Food Systems: Concepts, Impacts, and Issues; Economic Research Service, USDA, 2010 - This comprehensive overview of local food systems explores alternative definitions of local food, estimates market size and reach, describes the characteristics of local consumers and producers, and examines early indications of the economic and health impacts of local food systems.
- Local Harvest: A Multifarm CSA Handbook, SARE, 2010 - Available in print or online, the handbook details how farmers in CSA cooperatives can practice cooperative marketing, or work together to market their produce. The book includes advice on staffing, volunteer boards, distribution and legal topics.
- Survey of Community Supported Agriculture Producers, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Kentucky, 2009 - This report analyzes the business and marketing practices of 205 CSA farms in nine states (Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and West Virginia).
- Full Belly Farm, Guinda, California - Full Belly Farm is a 300-acre certified organic farm that supplies produce to a CSA, farmers' markets and wholesale and retail accounts.
- Silver Creek Farm, Hiram, Ohio, Rodale Institute - Silver Creek Farm is Ohio's oldest CSA enterprise. It offers its members a variety of options. They can buy shares including eggs, chicken, lamb, flowers and/or hand-knit sweaters.
- Sisters Hill Farm, Stanfordville, New York - This CSA with more than 200 members is managed by the Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul of New York.
Links checked November 2012.