Community Supported Agriculture
consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm
operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community's farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production. Typically, members or "share-holders" of the farm or garden pledge in advance to cover the anticipated costs of the farm operation and farmer's salary. In return, they receive shares in the farm's bounty throughout the growing season, as well as satisfaction gained from reconnecting to the land and participating directly in food production
. Members also share in the risks of farming, including poor harvests due to unfavorable weather or pests. By direct sales to community members, who have provided the farmer with working capital in advance, growers receive better prices for their crops, gain some financial security, and are relieved of much of the burden of marketing.
It is a form of local support for agriculture. Subscribers pre-pay a farmer to grow the desired produce. Sometimes the farmer will select what is to be grown, sometimes the buyer selects what they want to buy, more often it is a cooperative arrangement between the two parties.
For farmers, CSA offers a fair, steady source of income and a chance to talk directly with their customers. Many CSA farmers encourage members and their families to get involved, to work alongside "their" farmer to learn more about the food is grown. This develops understanding of the challenges facing family farmers in the community and helps create real partners in the local food system.