Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
Guest Post by my friend Ann at Coupons, Deals and More
Community Supported Agriculture, or a CSA is a great way to save money on produce. You purchase a half or full share, and depending on your local produce season, and receive a bag or box of produce every, or every other, week.
People living in Florida, California, Texas – places with year-round growing climates could receive up to 52 weeks of produce. Those of us up north typically receive 22-26 weeks of produce. The seasonal price will be adjusted to align with your growing season. For instance our share is $300 and we will receive approximately 24 weeks of produce- give or take two weeks – it depends on the growing season that year. Year round CSAs may be more than double that price.
Each CSA has different rules on distribution; some are strictly farm pick-up, some deliver to your door. For my local CSA we take turns driving to the farm (usually once per season) and we will pick-up the produce bags for everyone in our group. These are dropped off at the centrally located pick-up destination set-up by the CSA in advance, and folks will receive their weekly bags from this house/store/church.
If we cannot pick-up our bag (or have someone pick-up for us), we notify the CSA by Thursday and they will donate our share to the local food pantry. I am sure different CSAs have alternatives to the food pantry too.
There are drawbacks to a CSA, the biggest one being that you get what is in harvest, and that can be copious quantities of one specific type of vegetable. Sometimes we have so much lettuce in the house I feel like a rabbit! With freezable, can-able or hydratable produce, the abundance can be used year round. We usually receive enough produce in our 24-26 weeks to have “fresh” vegetables all year-round. Because we are in the northeast our produce is more abundant from August – November. As the season wears on we receive greater and greater amounts of produce as the CSA sends its members what it harvests, so the more being harvested, the more the member receives! By October our bags are pretty darned heavy.
You also need to check that your local CSA will not require you to work on the farm at any point (unless you are into that).
If you are unsure whether a CSA is for you, many CSAs will give you a one-time free bag to try just for the asking.
Foodnews.org has a download guide that separates the good organic buys from the unnecessary ones.
There are many types of CSAs– vegetable, fruit, cheese, eggs, honey the list goes on and on! The most common types of CSAs are organic produce, so definitely look into this if inexpensive organic produce is important to you.
Ann own and writes Coupons, Deals and More – a blog dedicated to helping you save money. With over 25 years of couponing experience, Ann has been at the saving game a long, long time.