Where was the lettuce on your sandwich grown? How about the green peppers in your omelet? You likely know which grocery store you bought it from, but where was it was grown? In many cases, large corporate farms on the other side of the country grow the vegetables you consume here in Wisconsin.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) can take the guessing out of where and how your food is grown. A CSA is a social and economic arrangement between you, the consumer, and the farmer. Local farms provide fresh goods to participating members. You join a CSA by selecting a participating farm and purchasing a membership. The membership gives you a “share” of the harvest during the farm’s growing season that is available for you to pick up at a neighborhood site or directly at the farm.
- Provides support for your local economy.
- Members receive food at peak freshness.
- Presents the opportunity to interact with farmers and learn more about how your food is grown.
- Requires less transportation for delivery and decreases the environmental impact.
When choosing a farm
- Choose a convenient pickup time and location since most shares are only available during specific hours and days of the week.
- Recognize that different farms may offer different products (fruit, cheese, jam, honey, meat, eggs, and more) and select a farm that meets your needs.
- Be aware of the farm’s growing season and choose a farm that offers produce during the time you are interested.
- Review your eating habits and if you have a smaller family, consider a farm that offers half-shares or bi-weekly pickups.
- Consider working at the farm to decrease the cost of your membership.
When a CSA might NOT be for you
- You travel a lot over the summer.
- You eat away from home several days of the week.
- You are not interested in preparing or using different vegetables.
If you like the idea of shopping locally and in season, but find that you are not ready to jump into a CSA program, try shopping at a local farmers’ market, visiting a roadside produce stand, asking friends or families who garden if they have extra produce, or shopping at markets that carry local produce.
What other ways do you use to get the freshest produce in your community? Leave us a comment below and share your ideas!