What is a CSA?

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. There is a variety of CSAs offered all over Ontario.CSA are becoming very popular among those who care for fresh, high quality, and local produce. The basis of a CSA is farmers offer weekly (or bi-weekly or monthly) farm-fresh produce boxes toKale those who pay membership into either farm.

You pay the farmer a membership fee (or a share) into their farm before the growing season, usually around February. This money helps the farmer pay for seed cost, equipment maintenance, property fees, tools, salaries, distribution/transportation costs, etc. Then once the growing season begins, you receive weekly boxes full of local, fresh produce. Duration of the boxes depends on the farmer, most in Northern Ontario run between the start of July to the end of October. What is in the box each week depends on what’s growing/in-season at the time, the farm, and weather conditions etc.

CSAs are a WIN-WIN-WIN situation. The farmers get the support they need for the growing season, you receive fresh, local fare every week and your local economy thrives from keeping money within the community. Also, you are helping the environment by reducing emissions from transportation of food that is not from thousands of miles away. As you now have a membership (or shares) into this local business you share the success, but also the loss if there is a drought, pest-issues, poor growing season, etc. that could affect their crops. Although these situations are unfortunate, it helps bring understanding to the hardships that farmers must overcome.

Each CSA is different. Each farmer grows different products, has different prices and sizes of boxes, different growing practices, etc. Ontario CSA Farm Directory is a great resource to find out more about CSAs in your community and has lots more information about CSAs. Check them out at: http://csafarms.ca/index.html . Another option is to talk to producers at your local farmers’ market to see if they offer a CSA program.

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