Friday, February 24, 2017

Today is CSA Day - buy your CSA share early to help your local farmer

February 24 marks the third annual National CSA Sign-Up Day when you can join other like-minded people around the North Country who are committed to eating healthy foods, supporting their local farmer, and being adventurous in the kitchen.  February sounds like a crazy time to be thinking about buying food from a local farmer.  But the concept behind Community Supported Agriculture or CSA is to share both the risk and the rewards with the farmer.  By purchasing a CSA Share early in the year, you help the farmer plan for the growing season and offer the farm an important infusion of cash for the purchase of seeds and equipment.

CSA is like a subscription to a season’s worth of locally grown produce.  You pay for your share now, the farmer grows the food, and then each week you pick up your share of the harvest.  It is a form of investment that allows small farmers to continue growing on a scale that may not be sustainable without the CSA model. CSA members enjoy the quality of fresh fruits and vegetables for their family, while supporting their local farmer.

Getting food from a CSA is different from going to a farmers market or the grocery store. As a CSA member, you make a seasonal commitment to a small farmer in your area and receive a weekly box of assorted local food. CSA members take pleasure in knowing where and how their food is grown and experimenting with new foods or recipes they may not have tried before.  CSA farmers typically teach members what’s in season throughout the year and help them appreciate and cook food to which they may not otherwise be exposed.

One challenge of the CSA model is the need to spend a larger than usual sum of money in the next month or two, without the immediate return of food for those dollars spent.  While, over the course of the season, you’ll likely get more than your money’s worth, this can pose a challenge for lower-income and working families, as well as seniors.

In St. Lawrence County, GardenShare is working to address that problem by raising money to subsidize CSA shares for working families and low-income households.  GardenShare also helps the farmers accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly called food stamps) as a form of payment.

To find a CSA here in St. Lawrence County or learn more about support for lower-income families to purchase CSA shares, go to