We throw the term “CSA” (community supported agriculture) around a lot these days, but do we truly understand what it means and why there is such a fuss over investing in a share?
To put it in layman’s terms, CSAs are a form of trade between consumer and producer. The consumer invests in the farmer’s harvest at the beginning of the season, which offers the farmer guaranteed startup cash when he or she needs it most. In return, the farmer provides fresh weekly produce for an extended number of weeks – some CSAs now offer home delivery for shareholders.
The purpose of community supported agriculture isn’t solely to serve as a business transaction. Along with a variety of fresh produce, consumers are educated on the production and preparation of the food they receive. Consumers can also expect to get to know their farmers and essentially the food narrative of their produce.
Take Brussels sprout, for example. In a CSA agreement consumers will learn not only when the sprouts are in season, but how they are grown and the best recipes for preparing them once they are home. Just like many other direct food sourcing options, community supported agriculture serves as a platform for food and agriculture education.
CSAs are taking root all over Indiana. Butler University’s Campus Farm is taking the concept of education and sustainable agriculture to a new level this year by offering CSA shares for the first time. The student farmers are currently selling full and half shares for 16 weeks worth of food. A full share can feed a family of four for as little as $26 a week.
This post was written by Brittany Smith, an intern with the Indiana Humanities Council. Brittany is a senior Communications major at Butler University. A strong passion for food and agriculture brought her to the Council’s Food for Thought campaign.