What, Exactly, is a CSA?

Do you enjoy eating extra fresh and local produce? Trying new fruits and vegetables? Do you want to support local farmers and help preserve the environment? Hmmm… Might you have an interest in saving money and time?

If so, you are in luck!  All of these amazing perks are benefits of enrolling in a Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.  In a CSA, members pay a set fee to help farmers cover their costs.  In return, they receive a weekly or biweekly share of produce.  Some CSAs also offer grass-fed meats, organic eggs, high-quality seafood, local honey and jam, or artisanal bread.

Shares of produce typically range from a full share, designed for a family of four, to half and quarter shares.  Each farm’s sizing differs, however, so before signing up, it is important to check with the farm about how much produce is in each share.  The CSA you choose might be a set share through which the produce is determined and you have the adventure of cooking whatever deliciousness is in the box that week. Or the CSA might offer customization, through which you get to select either peaches or berries, red leaf lettuce or spinach, for example. Increasingly, some farmers are partnering with other small farms, and their CSAs are offering even more variety to choose from.

If you are wondering how you get the produce each week, that also varies between farms.  Most programs have set pick-up sites, but others offer delivery services.

To help you navigate all the DMV-area choices, here are a couple of our favorite resources:

Enrolling in a CSA is an easy, rewarding way to support your local food system.  With these programs, you will know where your food is coming from and how it is grown, in addition to supporting the people who grow it. And it just doesn’t come any fresher. We think the opportunity to join one is pretty hard to pass up!