What is a CSA?
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, a program that allows consumers to partner with local farms by investing in the upcoming harvest. Consumers pay an up-front fee to purchase a “share” of the season’s bounty. In return, shareholders receive a weekly dividend in the form of a bag or box of farm-fresh goods – these can be fruits, vegetables, herbs, picked flowers, eggs, meat, milk, nuts, honey, or processed food items like jams and jellies. Some include newsletters and other value-added materials, such as meal ideas and recipes on how to use the week’s catch. Each CSA program is different in what it offers and when. Some offer a number of options to choose from based on the size of family or types of products they wish to receive. Harvest season in Ohio typically last around 20 weeks, and weekly pick-ups usually take place on the farm itself or at a nearby farmer’s market.
CSAs allow shareholders to support the local economy and provide a consistent diet of fresh, healthy food to their families. It also brings security and stability to the farmers who receive cash installments up front, relying less on fluctuating prices and production later in the season.
CSAs are not completely risk-free. As with any investment, shareholders understand that the return on their share depends entirely on what the farmer is able to produce. Weather conditions, soil conditions, pest infestations and diseases can all impede their ability to fill the bags and boxes for their shareholders. However, given the widespread success of the concept, it would appear that most people are willing to take this risk.
If you would like more information, or to sign up, please download our Shareholder Info Pack.