Choosing the Right CSA for Your Family

0fe63a4By: Meaghan Malinowski, MidAtlantic Farm Credit

When it comes to your family’s weekly menu, they deserve the best of the best. Joining a Community Supported Agriculture operation may be the “best of the best” you’ve been searching for. Depending on your area, you may have quite the variety to choose from when it comes to these operations, but, how do you know which one is right for you?

What is included in a weekly CSA share?

Many of the same vegetables and fruits you buy at the grocery store will also show up in your weekly box as they come in season. You’ll see a lot of fami3rd-CSA-Box1ly favorites, but chances are you’ll also find an array of vegetables and varieties you may have never tried, like: mustard greens, turnips, garlic scapes, and chard. Wait, you’ve never heard of chard? Me neither, but the internet has a fabulous array of websites devoted to providing delicious recipes for all the “odd-balls” you might find in your weekly share, so don’t be intimidated! Most CSAs offer at least two sizes of shares that appeal to smaller and larger families. A full share usually provides enough produce for a family of four each week, while a half share should provide enough for two. Each CSA is unique when it comes to their business operations but most will offer five to nine different types of produce each week. Make sure to check out your CSAs offerings for more detail, as some also give the option of a weekly supply of eggs, milk, meat, cheese and other delicious farm favorites.

What’s in a CSA contract?

Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure to read your CSA contract entirely and ask the farmer any questions you may have pertaining to your responsibilities as a member, their responsibilities as a farmer and any other terms noted that you may not understand. Contracts should be written clearly and concisely, outlining all of the necessary agreements the contract will establish between the member and the farmer, including but not limited to:

  • pick-up/delivery schedules
  • share sizes
  • pricing
  • payment plans
  • cancellation terms
  • crop availability
  • communication methods

Clearing up any confusion before the season starts will not only help build a great relationship between you and your farmer(s) but it will also make your experience with any CSA more rewarding.

CSAs are a great way to obtain a strong connection between your family and the farmer that takes great pride in providing you with the best produce they can grow. Not only are you supporting local agriculture but you’re also supporting environmentally sound practices and providing the best food for your family. Most CSAs provide their information online, however some still offer onsite visits. Check out Localharvest.org to find out more about CSAs near you.

 

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