Going to a farmers market weekly or bi-weekly is a great way to buy local, get high quality produce, and support your local farmer. Another way to do this is by buying a share in a CSA.
Community supported agriculture is a way of directly connecting food producers to consumers. By buying shares in a farm’s harvest, consumers alleviate some of the farmer’s risk, and in return, receive weekly or bi-weekly box of produce and other farm products. Farmers often provide recipes, preparation tips, and other information about the produce they provide. There are a handful of models that CSAs operate under from farmer-managed to shareholder-managed but all aim to connect you more deeply with the food you eat, who grows it, and where it’s grown.
While harvest season is a little ways off, now is the time you want to be purchasing your shares. By purchasing shares in the winter, you invest in the farm when the farmer is planning crops and purchasing seeds – when they need resources. When a CSA is fully subscribed, the farmer can spend the summer concentrating on growing and harvesting – not marketing and selling. It’s a model that supports the small farm, the family farm, the local food supply – something we’ve been in danger of losing.
The benefits to the consumer are numerous. You get very high quality produce at affordable prices, you receive a variety of produce enabling you to make dishes you might not have tried before and you get to know where your food comes from – who grows it and where it’s grown. Most CSAs have farm pick-up but many have distribution points throughout the community – you can choose the distribution model that’s best for you. The community benefits as well. Farmland is left open and well maintained. It creates jobs and leaves money in the local economy. Food is safer and more flavorful. And by going directly to the consumer, it leaves a much smaller carbon footprint than the traditional methods of distribution.
There are so many great CSA models in Rochester and the Finger Lakes – have a look around! We’ll be keeping an eye on what’s in season and on providing recipes and products that help you make the most of your share.
Google CSA near me or check out some of these CSAs:
Mud Creek Farm in Victor
Wild Hill Farm in Bloomfield
Early Morning Farm in Genoa
Sunscape Farms in Rochester
The Good Food Collective in Rochester