Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a marketing model that has been around for a few years now. In Israel, my kibbutz was the first to introduce this approach of buying produce and supporting the local farmer.
The traditional model means that an astonishing two years can pass between the farmer buying the seeds and receiving money for the sold produce. Imagine the cash flow issues for even a large company and then imagine how the family farm has to manage.
The CSA system alleviates this issue because the consumer commits to buying the produce straight from the farmer. Usually the farmer drops a box of produce for each customer at a local collecting point (ours is at the local elementary school).
The farmer can now grow a wider variety of crops over a longer growing season and the money is coming in usually monthly. The consumer receives a box of extremely fresh produce, probably picked that day and not at the inflated prices often found at farmers markets.
Often, the family can visit the farm, receive updates of what is happening and cultivate a genuine relationship with the farming family.
To learn where there is a CSA in your area, check this link. Some of the successful CSA’a mentioned to me in the Berkeley area include: Full Belly Farm was one of the first farms to offer a CSA in Berkeley. Another farmers’ market regular, Riverdog Farm, also offers a subscription veggie box program. Capay Organic Farm, Eatwell Farm, and Terra Firma Farm are also popular CSA programs offering weekly pick-up at central locations.
Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).