What is Community-Supported or Community-Shared Agriculture (CSA)?
What is a CSA?
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is an alternative food production and distribution system that encourages the building of direct and lasting relationships between the people who grow food and the people who consume it. The key to this relationship is the acknowledgement by both the farmer and member owner of sharing both the risks and rewards to produce a resilient, high quality, fresh, local food supply. Shareholders support the farm and become involved in its successes and failures as a way to help make small farms viable again.
CSA subscriptions generally last during the growing season of any given year, roughly 20-26 weeks in the Midwest region. In some cases, with the appropriate season extension structures, CSA subscriptions can last up to 30 weeks or more depending on the resources and needs of the farmer and shareholders. Share numbers typically range from 25 to 200 or more shares, and share prices range from $10 to $35 per weekly delivery or $300 to $800 or more for a season’s share. Please click here for more information on the pricing and weekly produce for full or half shares.
Having its origins in multiple places such as Germany, Switzerland and Japan during the early 1960’s, CSA’s are designed and carried out as a grassroots and community-based response to changing how food is grown and distributed in our local communities. CSA’s made their way to the United States sometime in the mid 1980’s as awareness of the dangers of industrial agriculture became front-and-center for some Americans that want a sustainable and resilient alternative to our present energy intensive and highly mechanized global food production and distribution system. In short, CSA’s offer a solution for communities to supply their basic food needs while at the same time confronting climate change and economic uncertainty by relying less on the global food supply and strengthening our local economies.
How do I get involved?
Participants pay a fixed share in the beginning of the season to help cover the cost for seeds, equipment, salary for the farmers, etc. Shareholders agree to share the risk related to farming operations.
The cost for different types of shares:
Full shares : $550 / year
Half shares: $330 / year
Sola Gratia is partnering with the Eastern Illinois Foodbank to provide Foodbank clients with the healthy, fresh produce that is needed in a nutritious and balanced diet. At least 10% of the produce grown at Sola Gratia will be donated to the Foodbank for distribution throughout our community. Let us know if you would like to donate part of your share to help families who are on a limited food budget.
So, why would anyone want to be a member owner of a CSA? Because they benefit from the following:
Food is fresher than from a grocery store where produce, in most cases, had traveled a few hundred to a few thousand miles before it reaches the store.
Had more control over how food is produced—organic, carbon-based farming with low energy methods for producing food.
A sense of being connected to the land and community through shareholder workdays and harvest festivals, charitable causes, and/or faith-based initiatives.