What is CSA?

 

WHAT IS CSA?

Community Supported Agriculture is a form of agriculture which promotes an alternative to the current food system by establishing resilience within communities and cities.

In a CSA, the consumer (you) buys direct from the farmer (us), who grows fresh, local and seasonal produce, directly for those very consumers! CSA members pre-pay for a “share” of the farmer’s yield and receive 'portions' of their share on a pre-determined schedule (e.g weekly deliveries or pickups). Your membership is paid directly to the individual farm. This is a food system that supports communities and establishes positive and active relationships between consumer and producer. It enables small-scale producers, like us at Roly Poly Farm, to grow and provide you with local, seasonal food in an environment primarily dominated by large-scale wholesalers that source produce from all around the country.

By becoming a CSA member, you play a direct role in regenerating and invigorating our local food system. In return, we guarantee you receive the freshest possible produce.

 

 Credit: https://www.fix.com/blog/farm-to-table/

Credit: https://www.fix.com/blog/farm-to-table/

 

ROLY POLY FARM'S CSA PROGRAMME - HOW DOES IT WORK?

Our CSA is more than just a weekly box delivery system. It is an investment, a support system, a relationship and a community. Your money goes directly to our farm, and to the people who work hard to both regenerate the land, and provide you with local, sustainably produced food.

Roly Poly Farm's CSA members pay for a 13 week share of the farm's bounty in two/three equal payments throughout each season. This allows us to purchase seeds, supplies, and equipment for the year without accruing debt. As young farmers building our business, this is HUGE! Plus, it lets us plan exactly how much to grow and when, so your share is always packed with seasonal, fresh veggies.

CSA Members are then kept involved in what we're growing and the farm’s activities through newsletters, member only weekly recipes and invitations to visit the farm. Members receive a box of produce each week which is full of vibrant, nutrient dense and freshly picked food. To supply you with the greatest seasonal variety, we may occasionally offer you produce from other local farms who grow those crops we are unable to for geographical or economical reasons, and who also share our ethical and agricultural practices. 

Our CSA gives you the tools to feed your family a diet laden in nutritious, healthy, veggie-filled meals! With our CSA vegetable subscription program, we’ll provide the veggies, recipes, and techniques to help you become savvy with fresh seasonal vegetables in your kitchen, and to change the way you eat, live and feel.

By becoming a member, you are directly supporting a local and sustainable operation, that is putting the health of the land, consumer and community first. You are part of the farm's success. You can visit the farm and talk to your farmer about the produce you're eating. CSA is based on trust, and you can rest easy knowing that we care as much about what's going into your bodies as ours! Once you taste veggies grown with this much love, you’ll never go back.

 

 

"Community Supported Agriculture consists of a community of individuals who pledge  support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community’s farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production."

- USDA

 


WHAT ISN'T CSA?

A CSA is not a typical weekly vegetable and fruit box scheme. These “box schemes” more often than not source products from wholesalers all over the country, just as most supermarkets stores do. There is usually no consideration of local seasonality, or the welfare of the land, farmer or soil. They are catering to our ideas about what is in season. There may be no opportunity to build a relationship with any of the farmers involved and it is difficult to even find out where the produce really came from, how and when it was grown.

Our CSA provides local and seasonal produce solely from our own farm or like-minded local producers, within our climate and season. 

We recognise the challenges posed by eating a seasonal diet, especially as what is seasonal is clouded by the availability we see in the global chain of supermarkets. To help each other, and to build up this community we keep talking about, we create forums and groups in which members can share recipes, ideas, and collaborate on fun and exciting ways to use the produce in your box. We send out weekly member newsletters, showcasing what is happening on the farm, what is growing, what got hit by that dry spell, and what is pumping in the greenhouse.


HOW DO I KNOW I'M GETTING MY MONEY'S WORTH?

Here at Roly Poly Farm, we live and practice transparency. We keep detailed records of all that we grow, harvest, value and spend. We have spent endless hours fiddling around with Excels and formulas, to create a system that guarantees each box we hand over to a member is worth at least $40. Of course, this is a supported system, and weather patterns do change. We have built our farm to be as resilient and diverse as possible, and some weeks there may be more greens and less roots. We can only ask that you embrace this, as this is what seasonal eating is about. This is CSA.

At the beginning of each season, we price our boxes against two local sources — the supermarket and an organic retailer. Our prices fall somewhere in between, and in fact are often cheaper than your local Big Guy. People should not join our CSA if they are looking for cheap produce. We may not meet those expectations, and the pressure of trying to is not sustainable, for either us or the land. We are not part of a corporate supply chain, and we do not capitalise on economies of scale like the larger producers. We use our hands, our feet, a wheelbarrow, and other tools that have minimal impact on the soil biology, the plant, and the land. We like to believe that our CSA members are involved in this endeavour because they really want to eat nutrient dense, regeneratively grown produce. They, also, are passionate about re-localising their food consumption, and wish to play their active role in moving our society and economy away from big business monopoly and control over our food system. Join the movement!

 

As I see it, reducing CSA to a mere food box subscription scheme would castrate the CSA model, taking away its power to create lasting relationships between the people who grow and eat food. As Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini would say, CSAs allow citizens to become “co-producers”  with their farmers, rather than passive consumers.

At their best, authentic CSAs are a win-win-win. Farmers get living wages and freedom from worry about profits and losses. Everyone weathers the tough times and benefits from the good times. Nothing goes to waste, and community investments help pay for land and equipment. Most of all, eaters get healthy food, good company, and the deep — if not always “convenient” — satisfaction that comes from playing an immediate role in transforming the food system.

Elizabeth Henderson
 

 



Like the sound of CSA? Join us for our next season of scrummy veggies here!

 

CSA is not for everyone, don't feel bad! You can still support your farmers in other ways.