Monday, February 13, 2012

What is a CSA?

Hello friends! It's Farmhand Kirsti again with one last post regarding my experience at the Dakota Grown Local Foods Conference.

My big question is in the headline. Do you already know? Maybe you're involved in one? Or maybe you're like me when I first arrived at the conference earlier this month.

"What's a CSA?" I thought, after hearing the acronym for the first time.

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and basically a CSA is a business that provides its members with fresh produce.

Here's a more in-depth answer:
Let's say you're a mom (I'm not, but I'm sure many of you are so that's probably not much of a stretch for you. And dads, I haven't forgotten about you. Just be yourselves and you'll be fine. I digress...) Let's say you're a mom who's looking for a way to get garden-fresh vegetables, fruit and maybe even protein into your family's diet. But you have a tiny yard--too small for a garden, or you have a full-time job, four kids and too much to do as it is. Got the scenario? Basically, you're unable to raise the vegetables on your own but really want that garden-fresh produce.

What's a mom (or dad) like you to do?

Here's the CSA option: pay up front for a local farmer to deliver a share of their in-season produce to you. The rate of delivery varies by operation. Vegetable CSAs will often deliver on a weekly basis. Ranchers raising meat may do it less often--say once a month.

Doesn't this sound fantastic? I sure think so! I immediately wanted to know how I could get into one.

One of the first things I did after getting home from the conference was Google "CSA." I found some more information on the topic, like this, this, and this. (Visit those sites for a more detailed explanation.)

I was amazed to see this map of all the American CSAs--there are tons of them! But alas, as the map illustrates, the idea of a CSA is relatively new to North Dakota. We don't have many yet.

In fact, my friend Annie, who owns and operates one of our states only CSAs with her husband John, told me she can count North Dakota's CSAs on one hand.

So, it's not likely I'll find one to join anytime soon. And my lack of farmland in my new western Dakota home prevents me from starting one. Looks like I'll be gardening this summer after all!

I've been mulling over this new-to-me type of agriculture over the last week. The experience has allowed me to grow, but more than that I'm filled with overwhelming thanks. No, this isn't the only way food should be produced, but it's a fantastic option.

The option may've not yet made it out to my part of nowhere. But it's out there. And it'll likely come. Options are freedom.

I'm thankful for freedom.

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