What is Community Supported Agriculture?

Kids weeding

Community Supported Agriculture – widely known as CSA – is a relatively recent phenomenon here in the United States.  However, the idea behind the CSA started in Japan in 1965 where it is known as a Teikei, which translates to partnership or cooperation.  A group of Japanese women became concerned with the increased use of synthetic chemicals, the prevalence of processed foods and the corresponding decline in the farm population.   To alleviate these concerns, the women initiated a direct, cooperative, mutually beneficial relationship with local farmers whereby they would purchase a share of the farmer’s crop at the start of the season thereby participating in the farmer’s success and ensuring quality, locally grown produce.

In the 1980’s the concept was brought to North America from Europe – where it was adopted earlier.  Through the last couple of decades, CSA’s have spread across the US and Canada and number in the thousands nationwide.

In the traditional sense of a CSA each member of the community purchases a “share” of the farm’s output with each member receiving an equal portion of the total produced.  In addition, some CSA’s require members to participate in the farms activities.  Frequently, the harvested produce is available at the farm each week for the members to pick-up or delivered to local drop sites.  Over the years other models have evolved that enhance the CSA experience.