What is CSA?
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a subscription-based model where members purchase a share of the farm's harvest in advance of the season and then receive a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly box of vegetables, meat, or other farm products during the growing season.
This type of food purchasing focuses on community and sharing the risk and reward of growing food. Farmers benefit by having a secure market for their product. Members benefit by convenient access to fresh food and a relationship with the farmers that grow it.
Workplace CSA is how employers can promote farm shares at a worksite. They can do this by partnering with a local CSA farm and creating a convenient pickup location on-site or promoting nearby community pickups to employees. Read more about ways employers can promote CSA here.
Benefits of CSA
CSA is a unique food model that shortens the supply chain between producers and eaters. There are many reasons members love this style of program. A few of the main CSA benefits are....
Access to fresh, nutrient-dense food. CSA makes it easier to purchase local, certified organic products all season.
Convenient pick-up locations near your workplace, neighborhood, farmers market, or home delivery.
Experience different eating habits and improved health. Members often report consuming more fresh fruits and vegetables, cooking more at home, and going to the doctor less. Learn more here.
Know your farmer and how your food is grown. Members receive regular farm newsletters with updates about the season and recipes.
Keep your food dollars in your community. CSA is a direct investment in the local food system. When you purchase a share every dollar goes to the farmer.
Try new foods and recipes. CSA shares offer a wide diversity of foods and inspire creative meals with seasonal ingredients.
How to Join a CSA
1. Find out what type of CSA meets your needs and an ideal partner farm. Are you looking for vegetables, meat, eggs, flowers or a combination? All of the Kentucky Farm Share Coalition Farms offer certified organic vegetable shares that can often be customized each week. Read more about each partner farm here and view their pick-up locations here.
To find other CSA farms in your area search the Organic Association of Kentucky Find-A-Farm Directory here and explore Kentucky Proud's CSA directory here.
2. Choose the ideal CSA share size for your household. Many farms offer multiple sizes for the season. Small/mini shares are great for new CSA members and households of 1-2 people. Regular/large shares are great for members that do a lot of food preservation or larger households of 3-4 people.
3. Sign-up with a CSA farm and pay a portion or all of your share ahead of the season. This upfront payment helps your partner farm have a more secure market and invest in seeds, equipment, labor for the growing season.
What can you expect
in a CSA share?
The average weekly share will offer a seasonal variety of items (5-9 in a small/mini share and 6-12 in a large/regular share). An "item" is often a bunch, bundle, or bag amount, not just a singular vegetable.
CSA shares offered by KY Farm Share partner farms include 100% USDA certified organic produce grown on the farm you select. Many coalition farms also offer online share customization where you can easily indicate preference for some items over others, swap out items for others or pause a share while on vacation.
Members can expect a wide variety of produce throughout the season. The bulk of a typical partner farm share will consist of vegetables with occasional fruit and opportunities to add on other farm items like meat and eggs when available. Participants can expect to see a lot of vegetables and varieties from week to week that you might not see in the grocery store. Find more tips on how to use your share each week here.