Community Supported Agriculture
An acronym for Community Supported Agriculture, CSA commonly refers to a group whose members receive weekly shares of food from a certain farm (or groups of farms) in their region.
It is a model where consumers buy shares of a farm’s harvest in advance. Consumers become CSA members by paying an agreed amount at the beginning of the growing season, either in one lump sum or in installments. Each member is supporting their local agriculture, not through a retailer or market but directly.
This upfront payment helps buy the seed and other needed items for the season and provides the farmer an immediate income to begin the season. By paying at the beginning of the season, CSA members share in the risk of production and relieve the farmer of much of the time needed for marketing. This allows the farmer to concentrate on good land stewardship and growing high quality food.
This is farm-to-table food in real time: typically harvested just before pickup, as soon as the growing season starts. No hanging around on grocery store aisles or lingering in market bins for longer than the three-or-four-hour time slot of your pickup. Your leafy greens will stay fresh longer, because they're fresher to begin with, and summer fruits and tomatoes can be picked once they're ripe and at peak flavor, because they're getting to you right away.