Ask The Radish: CSA Edition
Throughout the year, we receive questions about community-supported agriculture. These are some of our most popular ones with answers directly from our staff.
Q: What is community-supported agriculture?
A: Community-Supported Agriculture, called CSAs for short and also known as crop-sharing, is a system that directly connects farms with customers by allowing them to subscribe to their harvest before the season begins.
Q: How do I sign up for a CSA share?
A: Each CSA farm offers a different process for signing up. We recommend reaching out to the farms directly or picking up a CSA brochure in-store for more information.
Q: Where and how can I pick up my CSA shares?
A: Our co-op is a drop-off location for several area CSA farms, so most can be picked up at our store each week by coming to the front desk or calling us from the parking lot.
Q: What makes a CSA share unique from just buying local produce?
A: While buying local produce from our store is important, purchasing a CSA share is even more helpful to farms because it allows them to receive their income at the beginning of the season. It also guarantees their income instead of hoping a buyer purchases their products at some point. And it cuts out the middleman, ensuring that 100% of the dollar goes directly to the farm instead of part going to retailers or distributors.
Q: How much do shares cost?
A: The cost differs from farm to farm.
Q: What are the different types of CSA shares?
A: There are many different types of CSA shares. Some available locally include fruits, vegetables, meats, soaps, eggs, and flowers.
Q: Can I join late or mid-season?
A: Not usually unless shares haven’t sold out. Plus, it’s best to sign up at the beginning of the season to take full advantage of your share.
Q: What if I don’t pick up my share?
A: If your share is not picked up by you or a friend, it will likely be donated. Otherwise, you can contact the farmer, and they may be able arrange farm pickup.
Q: What if there’s a crop failure? Do I get my money back?
A: Not usually. When you buy a share, you are agreeing to “shared risk,” meaning if there’s a crop failure you won’t receive a refund. Typically the farm will instead substitute other crops that did grow.
Have a question you’d like us to answer? Leave us a note on a comment card available in our front lobby or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Our staff will reply as soon as soon as they can, and you may even see your question here in a future issue of our newsletter.
This article was originally published in the March/April 2021 issue of our bi-monthly newsletter, The Morsel. If you’d like to read more stories like this one and stay up to date on the latest co-op news and events, pick up a print copy in-store on your next grocery run or find more news on our website here.