Community Supported Agriculture(CSA) began in over 30 years ago in Japan – where it is known as”teikei”, meaning “putting the farmers’ face on food”. In the CSA model, citizens buy seasonal shares in a local farm, receiving weekly deliveries of vegetables and other produce. As shareholders, members often form a close relationship with the farmer(s), directly sharing the uncertainties and rewards of the season, often helping with planting and harvesting. Farmers benefit by having a stable, predetermined market to grow for, reduced marketing costs, and financial stability from pre-season “seed money” paid up front. Nearly all CSA’s in the US use sustainable, organic methods of cultivation, are small in size, and serve local customers. Lacking supportive laws, CSA’s have nonetheless seen tremendous growth in the US and now number over 2,500.
Community Supported Agriculture reflects an innovative and resourceful strategy to connect local farmers with local consumers; develop a regional food supply and strong local economy; maintain a sense of community; encourage land stewardship; and honor the knowledge and experience of growers and producers working with small to medium farms. CSA is a relationship of mutual support and commitment between local farmers and community members who pay the farmer an annual membership fee (also known as”shares”) to cover the production costs of the farm. In turn, members receive a weekly share of the harvest during the local growing season. The arrangement guarantees the farmer financial support and enables many small- to moderate-scale organic family farms to remain in business. Ultimately, CSA creates “agriculture-supported communities” where members receive a wide variety of foods harvested at their peak of ripeness, flavor and vitamin and mineral content.
CSAis a unique model of local agriculture whose roots reach back 30 years to Japan where a group of women concerned about the increase in food imports and the corresponding decrease in the farming population initiated a direct growing and purchasing relationship between their group and local farms. This arrangement, called “teikei” in Japanese, translates to “putting the farmers’ face on food.”
In1984 Jan Vander Tuin brought the concept of CSA to North America from Europe. Jan had co-founded a community-supported agricultural project named Topanimbur, located near Zurich, Switzerland. He introduced the idea to Robyn Van En at Indian Line Farm in S. Egremont, Massachusetts and the CSA concept in North America was born.
- National CSA Directory – find a CSA farm & get tips on becoming a subscriber
- CSA Resources for Farmers
- National, State & Regional Resources on CSAs
- Robyn Van En Center/National CSA Resources
- Alternative Farming Systems Information Center’s section on CSAs
- Sustainable Agriculture Network Directory of CSAs
- What is Community Supported Agriculture and How Does It Work? – University of Massachusetts Extension
- Community Food Security Coalition
- Local Harvest