Consuming local, farm fresh produce is a delicious and nutritious part of a healthy lifestyle as well as a way to support local farms and farmers. Heading to the farm market is one method of stocking your kitchen with nature’s bounty. Participating in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program is another.
What is a CSA?
A community supported agriculture program provides members with a weekly share of food from a specific local farm or group of farms. Depending on the growing season and conditions, shares may include fresh herbs, flowers, fruits and vegetables. Some CSA’s also offer, fresh eggs and meat as part of their program.
How do CSA’s Work?
A farmer (or group of farmers) sell shares of their crops to the public. Members purchase their share in advance and each week receive a basket (box or bag) of seasonal produce. There is no guarantee of what or how much will be included in each week’s share as it is dependant on the harvest.
Shares are often available for pickup directly from the farm while others offer pop-up markets for their members to pick up their weekly bounty. Some CSA’s offer delivery of your share right to your door – talk about convenience!
5 Benefits of a CSA
- Consistency. Life gets busy. Even with the best of intentions, you may not make it to the market on a regular basis. With a CSA, you have already paid for your share and more likely to ensure you pick it up.
- Freshness. Share contents are picked at their peak and provided to their members typically, the same day. Aside from heading to the farm and picking it yourself, you won’t find fresher. Talk about farm-to-table service!
Exposure. Your share is likely to include unique items. It’s unlikely you’d purchase something you have never tried or heard of. However, if it is included in your share, there is no reason not to try it. Being exposed to something new may even result in a new favorite food!
Cost. It is relatively inexpensive. The average CSA in Northern Virginia runs about $450 for a 20 week season making a weekly share approximately $20.
- Local Farm Support. Your money is going direct to the farm and supports the farmer and his family as opposed to a middleman. This helps the local economy, environment and keeps farming alive in your community.
There are many farms in Loudoun County that offer CSA’s! Here are a few.