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What is a CSA?

By Jen Risley (February 18, 2016)

Community Supported Agriculture, better known as a CSA, works like this: an individual or family purchases a share from a farmer — before the growing season begins — in exchange for a portion of the harvest.  This model provides farmers with cash up front to help pay for seeds, compost and other needed supplies for the coming growing season.

As a CSA member, individuals cultivate a closer connection to a farmer and experience some of the realities of farming — how weather, disease and other variables affect crop quantities and quality, and how much work goes into bringing your food from the farm to the plate.  Members also broaden their palette for local food, trying different types of produce in new ways — thanks to recipe suggestions from the farmer and fellow CSA members.

According to 2012 USDA statistics, there are over 12,617 in the United States.  New Hampshire has a diversity of CSAs to choose from, from traditional vegetable CSAs to dairy, seafood and other innovative uses of the CSA model.

The New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food maintains a list of farms with Community Support Agriculture programs.  View CSAs in New Hampshire.

“Community Supported Agriculture brings together farms and members of the community to share in a mutually beneficial relationship.  Members purchasing a share up-front also gives us a sense of security, knowing all the hard work we’re planning for and doing isn’t going to be wasted.  They feel connected to their food and appreciate it more knowing who and what has gone into getting it to them.” ~ CSA Farmer Tracie Loock, Tracie’s Community Farm

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