CSAs: A Newer Way to Get Local Vegetables

The Importance of a Healthy Community

Eating healthy is important. So is supporting our local farms. The first because a healthy body means, on average, a longer and more enjoyable quality of life; while healthy local industries results in a more healthy local economy.

Consuming locally grown vegetables (which PEI has no shortage of) is the most straightforward thing you can do toward achieving a healthy body and a healthy economy.

You may be asking yourself now, how can I get local vegetables? There are multiple answers to that question, but for now, we would like to talk to you specifically about Community Supported Agriculture.

What is a CSA?

Community Supported Agriculture; more commonly known as CSA, is a model for agriculture and food distribution that has gained humongous popularity among farms and communities all over the world, and it has exploded in Canada and Prince Edward Island over the past decade.

The easiest way to describe a CSA is as an agreement between a farmer and a customer. The farmer grows the food of course, and the customer (also frequently known as a member or subscriber) typically agrees to pay for a share of the crops prior to the season even beginning.

It's like a weekly magazine subscription... but with food! And a win-win: the farmer knows where their food is going, and the member knows where their food is coming from.

 

Canadian CSAs by geographic location

Canadian CSAs by province

 

What are the benefits of CSAs?

Being involved in a CSA lets your local farmers know how much food will be needed well in advance, and you know that the farmer will have money to buy the tools and seeds to grow the vegetables you'll be receiving. 

You as a member, on the other hand, can rest assured that you’ll have access to high quality vegetables and, depending on your CSA, can have them delivered directly to your doorstep.

What are the costs of CSAs?

The farmers in a CSA has to put in a bit more time into planning crops, keeping up and communicating with members, and a bit more bookkeeping. But it's all worth knowing that the food being grown in the field will eventually end up on someone's plate rather than going to waste.

On a CSA member's side of the relationship, you have to show up each week at the pickup location to receive your food, be at home in the case of delivery, or have a safe place for your food to be dropped off if you can't be home. After that, it's just a matter of eating your vegetables! (Should we really call that a cost? I guess not.)

Normally, with a CSA, you also have to be willing to pay for everything upfront, but because we want our CSA to be convenient and accessible to everyone, we also provide the option of week-to-week or monthly payments.

Of course we still appreciate those who are willing and able to pay for the whole thing upfront, because that helps us buy seeds, equipment, tools, and pay for labour while we wait for everything to start growing until it's ready for harvest!

A Win-Win 

In short, in a CSA, everybody gets something out of the deal!

It's easy to see why this model has become popular as it not only offers benefits to both sides, but also helps connect people to their food in ways that simply are not possible in any other way in the contemporary food system.

Signing up to a CSA is not just purchasing food, it’s contributing to the development and well-being of people and communities. It’s about giving a face to the food you eat, knowing where your food comes from and how its grown. Do you think that's a cause you can get behind? 
Jordan and Catherine
Maple Bloom Farm
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