Community Supported Agriculture is a great way to eat healthy, reduce your carbon footprint, and support local farmers with sustainable practices. Finding the right CSA farm is easy when you know where to look!
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What is CSA?
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a food system where consumers buy shares in a local farm and in return get direct access to goods from that farm, often in the form of weekly boxes of meat, produce and/or dairy.
This system gives individual consumers the power to invest in agricultural practices they believe in and see very real, very intimate returns on their investment in the form of fresh local food. Likewise, revenue from CSAs allows independent farmers to operate on a small, sustainable scale.
In other words, it’s a hyper-local, hyper-sustainable way to get great food and support local farmers.
Using Washington State’s “Eat Local First” online CSA finder, I found a CSA through Local Color Farm and Fiber, which is close to my house I can actually see on my daily walks with Pippen. The farm offers an organic veggie CSA, flower CSA, egg share, and naturally dyed wool from their sheep!
(Secretly, I’m going to try to establish a relationship with the farmers and see if they will let Pippen herd their sheep around.)
In terms of sustainability, imagine all the carbon emissions, packaging, and handling I’ll bypass by buying my veggies directly from a local farm instead of a grocery store. Plus, my investment supports farmers that utilizes organic fertilizing, cover cropping, buffer crops for pollinators, and other sustainable practices.
Every CSA is different. If you’d like more info on the basics, check out our guide on Emeraldology.
If you are ready to sign up, use the resources below to find a CSA near you.
Finding a CSA Farm
CSAs can be competitive, especially in urban areas, so it’s important to start looking early and sign up as soon as you find the right fit. Also, it’s always wise to get on a waiting list if the CSA you’re interested in fills up. Other shareholders may drop out, or the farm may have a better crop than expected and expand their shares.
To get started, I suggest the following resources:
- Barn2Door is an online platform that connects farmers and consumers within 200 miles of each other. Simply punch in your zip code and search local products and CSAs.
- LocalHarvest is a nationwide directory for farms, farmers markets, co-ops, farm stands, U-picks and CSAs near major cities. Search by product or procedure to find local foods and products.
- Harvie is an international (Hi there, Canada!) directory of farms and pick up locations. Use the map to connect with local farm programs and buy products online.
If you are in Washington State like me, I highly recommend visiting Eat Local First. It’s basically like if The Avengers created a website for finding local food. If you’re not in Washington, check to see if your state has a database of CSAs and local farms!
Also, CSA isn’t the only way to access local food and support local farmers. Keep your eyes peeled for farm stands, U-picks, Farmers Markets and co-ops.
Small businesses in general had a tough year, small farms included. There has never been a better time to support community agriculture for you, your community, and the planet!
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