Community Supported Agriculture is a method of marketing produce in which members subscribe to a farm on a weekly, monthly or annual basis and in return receive a box of fresh produce throughout the growing season. The CSA model ensures income for the farmer and provides a reliable food supply to consumers. There are a number of resources for farmers on how to design a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.
Marketing your products through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) encourages customers to become share-holders in the farm business. CSA gives farmers a chance to spread both the risks and the rewards of farming across a larger community. CSAs require good planning and organizational skills, particularly for setting the planting and harvest calendar and managing the CSA.
CSAs offer a secure and reliable market for farmers and healthy and fresh food for customers who might otherwise not have access to farm-fresh products. Farms with an established customer base are in a good position to start a CSA, as current customers can help bring in new members.
Excellent crop management skills to provide attractive and diverse weekly food baskets, as well as good customer service skills. Approach the CSA model with careful research and planning so that you can assess consumer interest in your area, and if that interest can translate into the sustained demand needed to make your business successful. Because customers now have so many other options for buying local, it may be useful to think of ways to customize the CSA for your particular niche.
Click on the interaction CSA flowchart from OSU Small Farms and the Pacific Northwest CSA Coalition for information and resources on incorporating CSA into your farm operation.
Portland Area CSA Coalition - This site is intended as a resource for people looking to join a CSA farm, a place for growers to find ideas for improving their farms. The Portland Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition started as a small group of CSA farmers getting together to provide mutual support, tour each others farms and share potluck meals in the off season.
CSA's of North America - CSA is a partnership of mutual commitment between a farm and a community of supporters which provides a direct link between the production and consumption of food. Supporters cover a farm's yearly operating budget by purchasing a share of the season's harvest.
CSA Annotated Bibliography - In basic terms, CSA consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community’s farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production.