Article by Daniel Mele | Additional Reporting by Matt Combs | Photography by Matt Tennyson | Owl Staff
Community supported agriculture gives a whole new meaning to the term, “farm fresh.” According to BradsProduce.com, “Community Supported Agriculture… [is a] means of purchasing fresh food directly from a local farm. The consumer buys a share of the farm’s products prior to the growing season. In turn, the shareholder receives weekly distributions of produce as the season progresses.”
The income upfront from consumers pays for the farmer’s supplies, such as seeds, fertilizer, and labor. Joan Hayden, an employee of Brad’s Produce says, “CSAs support the local farmers. They are the best way to get the freshest produce. It is difficult to tell in the grocery store when and where the vegetables were picked.”
Brad’s Produce has offered their CSA program since 2007. They have plans ranging from $100 to $515 for 24 weeks of CSA service. Over the course of the growing season, produce changes as the fruits and vegetables are ready at different times of the season. For example, a share in May will be different than a share in September.
That variety of food is a main selling point, according to Steve Rouse who use to run a CSA through Rousedale Farms, “I think a lot of people like the CSA because people can try different vegetables they haven’t tried before.”
Rousedale adds, “People can cook vegetables that they haven’t had before. Also, people like the mystery of what type of food they get each week.” CSAs may also offer a wide spectrum of foods besides fruits and vegetables, such as chicken, milk, eggs and pies.
A CSA offers a fresh and healthy alternative to the grocery store. Furthermore, purchasing from a CSA helps hard-working local farmers maintain and grow their business.