What gives you the convenience of fresh food delivered to your neighborhood, the ability to try new produce varieties that are grown for our region, supports the local economy, helps protect farmland and allows you to get to know local farmers? A CSA!
What is a CSA?
Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, is a way to eat fresh, local food through building a relationship between a farmer and member of the community. In a CSA, households become “shareholders” or “subscribers” and provide the financial support for the season’s farming by purchasing a share of the harvest or becoming a member of the farm. Once harvesting begins, shareholders typically receive weekly shares of seasonal vegetables. Some farms also include fruit, eggs, dairy, meat and poultry. Others offer extras like flowers or honey.
How does it work?
There are many CSAs in our region. Each farm is unique and may have slightly different harvest seasons, share sizes and prices. Some farms are certified organic and some follow sustainable practices but are not certified.
Share prices vary by share size and the number of weeks in the farm’s season (often late May or June through October, though some farms specialize in year round or just winter shares). Farm websites detail what they plan to grow for a season. Most farms have systems for paying in installments rather than one lump sum and some take Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
Once you’ve found your farm and the season begins, each week you pick up your vegetables. Different farms have different delivery methods. Some ask you to come to the farm to pick up your share (a good way to introduce kids to where food comes from), others drop off vegetables in boxes or bags at different sites around Portland, and a few will deliver to your door. To help you get the most out of your vegetables, farmers also include newsletters and recipes.
How to participate
If you want to join over 7,000 Portland-area households that are participating in a CSA farm, here’s how to get started:
Determine if joining a CSA is right for you and your family. Do you like cooking? Vegetables? Trying new foods? Do you feel like you want to eat more vegetables but aren’t sure how to get started? If you answered yes to any of these questions, a CSA share might be a good fit.
Find the farm that works for you. A new map details CSA farm drop-off points in Portland and makes it easy for hungry (and busy) shoppers to search for farmers who deliver fresh, locally grown food to specific neighborhoods. Join a farm by contacting the farm that interests you to learn about participation and everything that entails. Pick up and enjoy your season of local food!