Sharing the Risk of Farming: Community Shared Agriculture (CSA)
- by Kalynn Spain
Starting a business can be risky, financially and practically. Farming, at any scale, is a business that comes with more risks than the average venture. Farmers face not only typical challenges in business, such as unpredictable sales and shifting marketplaces, but also factors that are ultimately governed by nature, such as weather patterns and insects. These elements within farming as a livelihood - be that a part or full-time living from farm-based activities - can make the business part even more stressful. In one day, hundreds of potential income can be lost.
So what does sharing the risk of farming mean for us eaters?
The CSA model is a response to the above issue, that farming can be very risky. While exact definitions may vary, the concept of Community Shared Agriculture or "CSA" is actually quite simple. In a CSA, the eater acknowledges the fact that farming is risky and takes on part of this risk by pre-paying for his or her vegetables before they even start growing. The types and amounts of vegetables can be different between CSA farms, but the overall agreement is the same: the eater pays one fee for a weekly supply of vegetables grown by the farmer, however the season goes!
The purchase of a CSA share is more than just buying local vegetables. By signing up for a share with a CSA farm, you are taking the first step to understanding what it means to be a farmer - the greatness and the risk!
1) When should I sign-up for a CSA share?
CSA farms start taking sign-ups in the spring, and usually fill up by May. So, April is the month to sign up! Reserve a spot to avoid disappointment!
2) When do I start getting vegetables?
You can expect your CSA share to start by mid-June - most CSAs run for at least 12 weeks. Your CSA farm will keep you informed on how the vegetables are doing and when you can expect to pick-up your first share!
3) How do I get my vegetables?
Most CSAs will have 1-3 locations that their customers can choose from to pick up their vegetables at the same time every week. Some CSAs deliver their shares to their customers' doors, but pick-up is the most common. The pick-up location will be open for a certain time window (i.e - 4-7pm).
Visit our CSA Page to find the CSA pick-up that is nearest you.
4) What do I get in a CSA share?
Each week, the CSA farm will harvest a weekly supply of vegetables for each of his/her customers and will divide up the harvest into "shares"
A typical share will contain a bit of each type of vegetable that is in season that week. For example, you may receive a few tomatoes, one pepper, one cabbage, and so on. The different sizes of shares are Half or Full and in theory will contain enough vegetables to feed a certain number of people.
Want to know even more about CSAs? Visit CSAManitoba.org
The best part about a CSA? Getting the freshest vegetables possible!