The Charm of Community Supported Agriculture

Next month Local First will be hosting Growers' Fare in collaboration with the West Michigan Growers Group and MSU Extension. Growers’ Fare is an expo in which anyone from the community can attend and learn about community supported agriculture (CSA). It will feature opportunities to connect with local farmers, find a CSA to support, learn what local farmers are growing, and discover new ways of using your produce. Additionally there will be presentations on health and nutrition.

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Why Support CSA?

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Last summer my husband and I, along with two close friends, decided to get a CSA share and found it was one of the best things we’d ever done. Because my husband loves to cook with fresh ingredients but doesn’t love the overpriced, low quality vegetables at the nearby chain market, this seemed like the perfect fit. Additionally, it was low cost for us. We got more vegetables than we could eat each week and we paid one price at the beginning of the season for it. Each week our friends would drive or bike to a nearby neighborhood and collect the vegetables from tables set up in a backyard. You never knew what vegetables you were getting but you knew they would be quality and that you were supporting a local farming family. The hardest part about participating in a CSA share is that it ends mid-October.

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The Real Reason to Support CSA

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Having a CSA share not only grants the community access to low-priced, quality produce, it allows local farmers to feel a sense of security and purpose in their work. Typically farmers receive payments early in the year, and by participating in CSA you’re telling farmers that you believe in them and support them even before you get your share. This notion is called “shared risk,” and results in a feeling of “We’re in this together.” Thus if you don’t get carrots one week, you will not be reimbursed because you’ve already made the commitment to support the farmer no matter what vegetables each week brings. Or if fickle weather results in a low-yielding crop, you're also sharing that risk.

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CSA offers a progressive yet old-fashioned way of engaging with your food because you always know where it coming from, who’s providing it, and you’ve made a commitment to support your farmers, who are neighbors, and who could become your friends.

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