What are CSAs and why should anyone bother to join one? CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, is a program where farmers and local families join into a produce partnership. The family or consumer pays for a "share" of a local farmer's crop before the season begins. Then the consumer receives a weekly or bi-weekly supply of fresh produce.
There are countless benefits to joining a share program with a local farmer including weekly shipments of the freshest produce, the ability to try new vegetables and recipes, and the knowledge of where one's food is grown.
Farmers around the country (even at Pearl Market) offer CSAs. That's My Farmer, Shady Grove Farms, Paige's Produce and Bergefurd Family Farms all offer successful CSA programs. Fill out an application, and select a share size. All of the farmers mentioned above offer half- and full- shares. These shares are sold on a first come, first serve basis, and are primarily sold during the colder months before the crops are planted. These payments are used to purchase seeds, machinery and conduct farm repairs.
CSAs give customers an opportunity to truly support the local farmer's business, which also means you may feel the effects of an erratic weather...just like the farmer. For instance, the Ohio peach crop felt a great deal of damage this year due to the harsh winter so this year's CSA customers won't see peaches brimming from their baskets. Customers receive what grows on the farm - plain and simple. But that's cool too, because you support a local business.
Since CSA members don't often select the produce they receive, many farmers include recipes, tips and suggestions when including a new product in a CSA delivery. So, now you'll know what to do with those kohlrabi in your basket.
The CSA programs available through Pearl Market farmers cost between $200-500 for half shares and $450-900 for full shares. This opportunity gives individuals the chance to develop a relationship with local farmers and the source of their food.
The Market also serves as a great spot to pick up your weekly share. It makes the hand-off between the farmer and consumer easy and amicable. Stop by Pearl Market and check with the farmers listed above if this program sounds intriguing. A CSA can be the perfect complement to a farmers' market trip.