Last week I overheard a gal say to her guy, “I’m so pumped for ramps!” I smiled and kept walking, and then remembered that many Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) operations will soon begin delivering their first boxes of produce to their eager subscribers. “Eager” is an apt word for many people I know who subscribe to a CSA—they are simply giddy with excitement as they anticipate receiving their first spring shipment of ramps, water cress, asparagus, and other early spring delights from their favorite producer.
The Basics on CSAs
The concept of a CSA can be confusing, but basically, a CSA is a partnership between local farmers and their subscribers. Before the growing season commences, a CSA farming operation will sell subscriptions to members of the public who pay upfront and then become stakeholders in the farm. The public stakeholders then receive regular deliveries from the producer in return for their subscription.
When you subscribe, you enjoy the benefit of having a relationship and understanding with the people growing your food. In a very direct way, you experience the risks and the bounties that the producer experiences.
Membership arrangements, delivery locations and frequency, products, opportunities for involvement, and costs vary with each CSA operation, so research is important in order to find one that suits you. There are several CSA opportunities in the Twin Cities area. Land Stewardship Project has a list of participating farm CSAs on their website, as does the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.
CSAs can provide more than just produce—eggs, flowers, cheese, meat, and more are also available through CSAs in Minnesota. Here are some:
Shepherd’s Way Farms’ artisan cheese CSA: shepherdswayfarms.com
Grass Run Farm’s organic, grass-fed meat CSA: grassrunfarm.com
Trumpeter Swan Farm’s free-range egg CSA: trumpeterswanfarm.com
Common Place Farm’s fresh cut, chemical-free flower CSA: livethislifeonpurpose.com