“Community Shared Agriculture” (CSA for short) is a way of connecting eaters more directly to the farm that is feeding them. It works like this: The farm grows a variety of crops that work well within the growing season and conditions/capacities of the farm. “Shares” are sold to a group of farm supporters, who pay up front prior to the season for the food that they will receive during that season. It is a simple and effective way for folks to know and support their farmers while getting the healthiest, freshest food possible.
A Rocha has operated a CSA program for 8 years. We focus on veggies (there are CSAs out there that do meat, eggs, fruit, honey, etc.). Our 20-week season runs from mid-June until the end of October. A full share costs $600.00 and contains a mix of 8 to 12 varieties of vegetables and herbs per week – enough to supply a family of 4 or 5 with most of the veggies they would need for a week. We do offer a half-sized share option ($350.00) but we encourage people to consider sharing a full share with friends if possible. Share participants pick up their weekly veggie box at the Brooksdale Environmental Centre (16th and 192nd in Surrey).
Participation in a CSA involves sharing the risk of farming with the farmer. There are no guarantees as to the content of the bins from week to week – yields and variety will be determined by weather and other factors beyond the control of the farmer. Typically the first month of the season has lighter boxes (more leaves, fewer items). The weight of the bins increases as root crops and squash come into production. I anticipate that the week of June 18 will provide our first share boxes, and the season will conclude the week of October 30 (for a total of 20 weeks).
There is no “choice” as to what you receive in your weekly box, and you can expect that you will encounter items that you wouldn’t normally buy and some things you may not recognize! Some folks love the adventure of opening their weekly share, while others find that they would rather support farmers by shopping at the farmer’s market where they can buy exactly what they want.
To give you an idea of what a bin might contain, here are projected harvests for 2 weeks of the summer:
June 25 – scallions, garlic scapes, broccoli raap, bok choi, swiss chard, lettuce, spinach, snow peas, daikon radish
September 3 – onions, garlic, cucumbers, sweet pepper, tomatoes, lettuce, cilantro, green beans, zucchini, cantelope
This year you can have the option of purchasing “add-ons” to your share, including flowers, basil, pickling cukes, sauerkraut, and hot sauce. The costs and quantities are indicated on the registration form.
If you have any other questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me. I welcome all input and participation. Growing organically and intensively is a big job – many hands are required to do it well. Share members are not required to put in volunteer hours, but my experience is that participating in the growing increases your sense of connection and thankfulness for the food you eat. So if you can, plan to pitch in and help your veggies (and your farmers) thrive!