Friday, February 23rd is National CSA Day! This holiday always falls on the last Friday of February and is meant to publicize CSA’s and their benefits to the community.
First, let’s define what a CSA or Community Supported Agriculture is: It’s a farming model that creates a partnership between a local farmer and local community members who purchase a seasonal crop-share, and essentially eliminates the middleman. CSA shareholders or members receive an abundant allotment of fresh, locally grown produce from their farmer on a weekly or bi-weekly basis in exchange for their pre-paid membership. This arrangement provides the farmer with predetermined number of customers to grow for which makes planning and growing the proper amount of vegetables more efficient.
CSA’s vary from farm-to-farm – there are flower CSAs, meat CSAs, even mushroom CSAs – but the most common is a Vegetable CSA, which is what Yellow Stonehouse Farm offers. Within the Vegetable CSA category there are differences as well – the most obvious one being those that grow their vegetables conventionally and those that chose to use USDA certified organic growing practices.
CSA’s also differ in how they distribute their produce – do you get to personally select your produce from a market-style CSA or is a pre-packaged box provided to you? Other CSA variables to consider are location, the size of the CSA, pick-up day choices and hours, the variety and specialties unique to a specific CSA, and other features such as whether you get special items such as recipes, herbs, or Pick-Your-Own (PYO) vegetables, flowers and herbs.
The benefits of being a CSA member are many – both for the members and their community. We have found that there are three primary reasons that our members join Yellow Stonehouse Farm’s Organic CSA:
- Our members want to eat a Healthy Diet that is:
- Chemical, herbicide and pesticide free USDA certified organic produce – the chemicals used in conventional farming have been shown to be carcinogenic and endocrine disruptors and are particularly bad for children and pregnant women.
- Freshly picked and locally grown – fresh produce tastes better and lasts longer, especially if it isn’t being transported cross-country and refrigerated for weeks. Plus, organic produce is grown in organic soil and the natural microbes and other attributes of the soil boost both nutrition and flavor.
- Seasonal – eating seasonally means that we are eating what we need when we need it, and provides a mix of tastes, textures and nutrition. YSF grows a great assortment of vegetables, field fruits, aromatics such as garlic and gingers plus herbs that changes weekly. We grow a combination of new cultivars and unusual varieties, plus heirloom and native vegetables to provide a fun and interesting selection for our members.
- Delicious – not only are the vegetables fresh, they are delicious! A lot of conventional produce has been bred to look good not taste good, many wonderful varieties aren’t grown for the supermarket because they may not last as long or are more fragile. AT YSF, we pride ourselves on the number of different varieties and types of vegetables we grow – and on the wonderful taste and flavors. We also provide weekly recipes with every share so members can prepare delicious dishes from the produce they receive.
- Our members want to be Environmentally Responsible by
- Supporting farming and maintaining open space for agriculture and recreational use today and into the future.
- Decreasing CO2 emissions due to decreased energy used in transporting and refrigerating produce across long distances.
- Eliminating herbicides, pesticides and chemicals that are polluting our environment and decreasing important populations of pollinators, amphibians, birds and other species.
- Maintaining water quality by eliminating herbicides, pesticide and fertilizer run-off into local water courses and aquifers.
- Sharing the farm experience with children and creating life-long health by teaching them about where their food comes from, better nutrition, and benefits of fresh and locally grown produce.
- Our members are looking for a Good Value – better food at a reasonable price
- CSA’s are surprisingly affordable compared to supermarket prices for organic produce. Research conducted at Cornell University in New York estimates the costs savings to be approximately 20% over the cost for a comparable amount of conventional vegetables purchased in a supermarket – and the savings are even more for organic produce.
- Knowing your farmer and the farm where your vegetables are grown provides the extra reassurance you need to know that you are providing the best possible food and nutrition for your family.
- Reaping the bounty of the harvest when the vegetables are at their peak is truly a joyous experience and one that YSF is dedicated to sharing with every mem
- Yellow Stonehouse Farm believes in providing a great experience for our members. We enjoy getting to know our members individually and providing a level of customer service that makes membership in our CSA a special experience. Growing someone’s favorite vegetable is just one way we cater to our membership.
Hopefully this edition of Farming Matter’s has helped you to better understand how CSA’s work and how membership can contribute to your family’s health & enjoyment through eating fresh, organic vegetables. Check out Yellow Stonehouse Farm Organic’s Facebook Page or email the farm at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.