The popularity of CSAs (community supported agriculture) shows it to be a viable option for farmers and consumers alike. CSAs have sprouted up across the country, particularly east of the Rocky Mountains. The system works like this: a farmer offers “shares” for sale to the public before the beginning of the growing season. Each person who buys a share gets boxes of fresh, local, seasonal produce in return, usually once a week (dairy, meets, eggs, and other farm products are sometimes included). The shares in turn provide the farmer with start up capital to plant, and a sort of “insurance” against a bad crop. Every member is in it together: if there’s a drought or flood, the return is smaller for all shareholders. Often there is an option or even requirement that each shareholder work a set number of hours at the farm. It makes for a small contribution from each person, but gives everyone a chance to know one another. The more involved a shareholder is, the more satisfied they tend to be with their CSA experience. There are already tens of thousands of CSAs in the U.S., and in some areas there still aren’t enough to keep up with demand.
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