Community-Supported Agriculture Transforms Local Farming

Community-supported agriculture, also known as CSA, has reshaped the face of agricultural development in local farms across the country. Consumers pay in advance for a season’s worth of agricultural products, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, which are delivered weekly by local farmers. CSA programs typically run for about 25 weeks and cost about $20 a box.

Most CSA programs are relatively small and rely heavily on support from the local community. Minto Island Growers, located in Salem Oregon, has 100 customers and typically delivers produce for 25 weeks. Minto Island’s produce shipments typically include staple crops like potatoes, while rounding out deliveries with a variety of other vegetables.

This agricultural diversity is what makes CSA difficult. Juggling the various requirements of a diverse agricultural production can be time consuming. According to Chris Jenkins, a partner at Minto Island, “The hardest part is planning out in advance to have a continuous harvest. It’s hard to have the diversity as well as a continuous harvest so that there are no gaps in abundance of harvest.” Jenkins also claims that due to the diversity of his crops, “The management of our 30 acres is almost like running 500 acres of a monoculture farm.”

Despite the difficulties, many farmers find this kind of agricultural production incredibly rewarding. Jason Salvo, a Seattle-based lawyer, left the legal profession to pursue his dream of farming. According to the USDA, by 2007 there were over 12,000 CSA farms operating in the United States.

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