WHAT IS COMMUNITY SHARED AGRICULTURE?
In a nutshell, Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) is a model of direct-food-marketing that allows for farmers and consumers to support one another through mutual commitment and community building. Although it is a relatively new phenomenon, the CSA model is rapidly gaining popularity, with thousands of new CSA farms popping up across North America over the last decade.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
1- At the beginning of the season, customers pre-pay for a “share” in the harvest.
2- The farmer uses the upfront capital to purchase seeds, tools and all of the other resources needed to begin to grow!
3- When the harvest season begins, veggie shares are prepared on-farm and delivered to a central location where members come to pick them up. This is a great time for members to meet each other, chat with their farmer, exchange recipes, and ask questions about the farm and the produce. (For those who are unable to make it to the pick-ups, Crocus Hill Garden offers a delivery service for a small additional weekly fee.)
WHAT WILL I FIND IN A SHARE?
This season, I’ll be growing over 40 varieties of vegetables, herbs and berries. Each weekly share will have a minimum value of $30, and contain 7+ seasonal items. This will include classic vegetables like baby greens, tomatoes, carrots, zuchinni, green beans, potatoes and winter squash. It will also include some exciting seasonal treats like rhubarb, chives, saskatoon berries, and pea shoots.
A “swap-bin” will be present at each CSA pick-up, allowing members to trade unwanted items for ones they like better.
*If you’d like more specifics, a detailed spreadsheet of the projected harvest schedule is available upon request!
Above is a sampling of the 2018 weekly Harvest Shares in chronological order, beginning in June and ending in October. Each has a minimum value of $30.
WHAT IF THE CROPS FAIL?
CSA farming is about sharing both the risks and the bounties associated with farming. If the season goes well, members are rewarded with high quantities of inexpensive, fresh, and high-quality local vegetables. If something goes wrong (ex. a pest destroys the onion crop), the farmer does not have to bear the full brunt of the cost because they are supported by their members.
At Crocus Hill Garden, I’ve accounted for a certain amount of failure by planting 30% more than my anticipated need. With 40+ varieties of vegetables, herbs, flowers, and perennials, my garden is extremely resilient and highly unlikely to experience total crop failure. In the event of a significant failure (i.e. 50% or more), I would consult with members to come up with a fair solution, and refund those who cannot afford to take the loss. I also may consider “buying in” produce from nearby farms to make up for losses.
WHY BECOME A CSA MEMBER?
- It tastes great!
- Support your local economy: Keep your dollars in your community and help the local economy grow.
- Support local biodiversity: By nature, CSA farms are highly biodiverse. How else could they provide their members with such a wide variety of veggies?
- Reduce your food miles and contribute to local food security.
- Reduce waste: The CSA model is one of the most efficient ways to grow food. CSA farmers know exactly how much to seed, harvest, and bring to market. This saves on time, labour, and most importantly, food waste.
- Get to know your farmer, get to know your food: Joining a CSA is a great opportunity to learn and build relationships with the food you eat and the people who grow it.