Community Supported Agriculture is a model for delivering food directly from farmers to nearby consumers. It uses less energy than our industrial model of food delivery, it puts more money in the pockets of farmers, it provides fresher and more nutritious food to the consumer, and it places a new emphasis on food quality. It’s also devilishly difficult to do well.
Community Supported Agriculture typically involves these features:
- There is a direct contractual relationship. One party is the consumer, and the other party is either a farmer or a consortium of farmers.
- The consumer pays in advance, so the farmer needn’t worry about collection or about selling food already produced. The farmer grows only what the farmer knows he or she can sell.
- The farmer provides a box, basket, or bag of food to the consumer periodically, usually once each week. Sometimes the farmer delivers the food to the consumer’s door, and sometimes the consumer goes to the farm or a central distribution point to pick it up.
- Sometimes part of the consumer’s payment for food comes in the form of work on the farm.
- Usually, but not always, the farmers in Community Supported Agriculture promise that the food they deliver will be grown organically and often sustainably.
- Usually, but not always, the farmers in Community Supported Agriculture promise that the food they deliver will be extraordinarily fresh when the consumer receives it, typically within 24-48 hours after harvest.