If you shop at farmers’ markets during the summer, you’ve probably heard the term CSA mentioned at least once or twice. Community Supported Agriculture is a distribution model in which fruit- and veggie-loving consumers buy shares from local farms at the beginning of the growing season. In exchange for their investment, subscribers receive weekly boxes of local, organic produce delivered to a central location for pickup.
For those of you who recently adopted a vegan meal plan, subscribing to a CSA program might be the perfect way to experiment with fruits and vegetables you otherwise wouldn’t have consider trying (I’m looking at you, okra). Ready to get involved? Fantastic! Before you sign up to receive fresh, local produce all summer long, check out our vegan’s guide to Community Supported Agriculture below.
Where do I find a CSA?
The USDA has a CSA database you can use to search by location and product availability. Your local farmers’ market, co-op, and natural foods store will probably have details on how you can get involved in a local CSA program, too.
How do I get my food?
CSA programs can vary as widely as the farms that offer them, but typically farmers will evenly distribute the week’s harvest among shareholders. You never know what you’re going to get, either. It’s a surprise every time! Boxes are usually available for pickup at a central location on a weekly basis.
Who grows my food?
Subscribing to a CSA program is a great way to discover where your food comes from. Shareholders are often invited to tour the farm and meet the farmer who grows their fruits and vegetables. Be sure to read reviews before selecting a farm to make sure others have had positive experiences.
How much is this going to cost?
If you’re a vegan on a budget, a CSA subscription might throw you off track a little bit. Sustainably raised food doesn’t come cheap! Prices do vary, however, so you can shop around for a program that fits your budget, or splurge for a pricey box and split the cost with a neighbor or coworker.
What should I do with all of my produce?
Depending on the size of your CSA box, you might end up with more fruits and vegetables than you know what to do with. To make sure nothing goes to waste, scan your vegan meal plan to see where you can use some fresh produce in your cooking. You can slice and freeze the rest to enjoy later in the season.