CSA or Community Supported Agriculture is something I’ve heard of for several years now. I had never been actively involved in one before as I hadn’t been sure if we even had such a thing. Sure, I had been to my local farmers market countless times, but finding out that I could get my own weekly box of mixed locally grown and seasonal produce has been a total game changer. This takes the term “farm to table” to a new level and I couldn’t be more thankful I got started on this CSA journey.
Starting in the Spring season of this year, I was fortunate enough to come across the amazing team over at New South Cooperative who heads our local CSA program. After messaging back and forth a few times with one of the awesome team members at New South, I was quickly on board to start picking up my very own weekly share! Boy, was I in for an amazing ride over the next few seasons. Eating locally grown fruits and vegetables has been such a joy for me in more ways than I can count. So much so that I have to share with you! I thought I’d share 5 of my favorite reasons to join your very own local CSA program this year.
Let’s start with the basics first so you know exactly what all is usually involved with a typical CSA program such as New South Coop.
-Below is an explanation from New South Coop’s website which you can find >>here<<.
“Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, is a partnership between growers and eaters. Shareholders make a commitment to eating healthier food and supporting local farmers at the same time. By becoming a member you pay for your vegetables, flowers and cheese in advance so we, your farmers, have the capital we need to begin the season. In turn, when the CSA begins you receive a share of fresh, naturally grown produce for 8 or 16 weeks.
Prior to the CSA we are maintaining the fields, fixing tools, planning our crop rotation and cleaning our greenhouses! Your investment allows us to purchase new seeds, seed trays, potting soil and much much more. As farmers we do our best to provide a great harvest for each of our shareholders, but with the uncertainties of nature CSA members and farmers share the loss together.
Your purchase secures a long-term market for our farmers and reduces some of the risks associated with small-scale farming. By working together and sourcing produce from different regions of the state, our team of Certified Organic and Certified Naturally Grown farmers is able to provide the freshest local produce at an affordable price.”
Now, if that doesn’t convince you alone that being apart of a CSA program is amazing, here are 5 additional reasons I think you should join one too!
1) Being able to know exactly where my food comes from matters to me. Yes, I shop at grocery stores often, but when I have the option I am more than excited to know exactly what and where my food is made of and is coming from. The benefit of being involved with a local CSA program is that your food doesn’t have to travel very far at all before it hits your table. This is not only good for my health but also leaves a lighter carbon footprint down the road for our environment. Knowing that my food hasn’t traveled thousands of miles gives me peace and confidence that it’s been in good hands from seed to harvest and beyond. Plus, the amount of love and hardwork these farmers put into their crops each season is undeniable.
2) Being able to support the local economy. You’ve heard of Shop Small and it’s the same exact idea for supporting our local farming communities. It’s been found that at least twice the amount of money spent stays within our local community rather than when we buy products not locally grown/produced/sold. When we are supporting these farmers with taking part of a CSA share, we’re not only just a CSA member but we’re part of the farming family and community. This makes picking up that weekly box that much more rewarding. Local farmers who sell directly to their consumers are able to cutout the middleman or grocery stores and are able to get full price for their food which in turn helps their farming family be able to afford to continue farming their land.
3) Being able to expand my taste buds with fresh and seasonal foods. I didn’t grow up eating a ton of fruits and vegetables. I have always been a picky eater, but as I’ve grown older my taste buds have definitely expanded. This only heightened my sense of taste when I started taking part of the CSA program. With such a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in each box, I’ve been able to incorporate so many different foods that I never would’ve considered before. Sticking to the same old produce at the store is history for me and will be from here on out.
4) Locally grown food tastes better and lasts longer! When you are able to buy locally grown produce, the crops are picked at the peak of their season and are usually sold within days even hours of their harvesting. This makes a major difference in not only the appearance of the fruits and vegetables, but the flavor. I can’t tell you how many “YUM’s” have come after biting into a freshly picked piece of produce right out of my CSA box. The life of the produce is extended due to rate at which these local farmers are able to pick their crops. Sometimes when you get home from the grocery store, your berries are ALREADY bad! That’s never a good thing.
5) Being able to get healthy while having fun doing it. New South’s Farmers are all Certified Organic or Certified Naturally Grown meaning they don’t use harsh chemicals on their crops and they use soil amending treatments like compost. This gives me so much confidence in the food on my table knowing it’s not only grown with care, but nourishing my body at the same time. Diving into plant based meals nourishes our bodies, minds and souls in so many ways. In a world that’s commonly consumed with a not-so-healthy mindset, it’s amazing to take part in something that keeps the consumers health at the top of it’s priority list. By taking part of the CSA program with New South I’ve been able to dive into some of my most favorite new recipes that will stick with me and my family for years down the road. I look forward to my CSA pick up each and every week and only get more excited thinking of the future and what it holds for the partnerships between my local farmers and programs just like New South Coop.
New South Coop’s Fall CSA shares kick off in just a few short weeks! Head over to their website to get signed up and have your very own Arkansas grown CSA share. If you’re not in Arkansas, head to your local farmers market to see where your local CSA program is and how you can get involved.
If you’d like to learn more about New South Coop and their team, make sure to check out this video below!
As always, From Chelsea