What is it? Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a system where community members buy shares of a farm’s produce for the season. At the beginning of the season, community members buy their share and then receive their allotment of food at regular intervals throughout the season, often weekly. These shares directly connect the farmer and the community members. They share the risks and rewards. The process gives farmers more flexibility as they do not have to market themselves throughout the season. Consumers get to support local farms and receive produce that is usually much fresher and better than could be obtained elsewhere. Community members are invested in the farm and contribute to its continued operation.
How has it been used? On the Eastern Shore of Virginia, Mattawoman Creek Farms has been running an all organic CSA since the mid-2000s. They routinely sell out of shares long before the season starts and deliver a wide variety of produce throughout the year. After starting by selling shares on the Eastern Shore, they now sell shares to people living in Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Chesapeake. When community members buy their share, they know it supports a local business that employs people in the region. In addition to doing good, shareholders receive fresh, local produce. This produce is always what is in season and the weekly delivery often includes heirloom and specialty items. Shareholders receive a very nice dividend for supporting their community farmer. (Source: Mattawoman Creek Farms)