Community Supported Agriculture creates a rewarding relationship between the growers and consumers of food. When participating in a CSA program, individuals invest in the farm at the start of the growing season and in exchange receive a share of the farm’s harvest each week throughout the season.
Getting food from a CSA is different from going to a farmers market or using a grocery delivery service. As a CSA member, you make a seasonal commitment to a small farmer in your area, and the produce is either delivered to your door or you pick it up at a local distribution center. CSA members take pleasure in knowing where and how their food is grown, and typically have an open line of communication with their farmer.
“Community-supported agriculture is all about relationships and feeding families,” said Simon Huntley, CEO of Small Farm Central, a company that provides marketing support for small farms and started CSA Day. “CSA farmers typically teach members what’s in season throughout the year, and help them appreciate and cook food to which they may not otherwise be exposed.”
The CSA members or “shareholders” receive a generous sampling of the farm’s harvest each week during the peak of the season in return for their investment. They have the opportunity to eat the freshest, tastiest, most nutritional produce available. This is the traditional CSA method and it has many benefits!
- The CSA concept allows the farmer to have working capital in the late winter and early spring when it is needed most and helps to guarantee a market for the produce the farmer will grow
- Members usually receive priority of the best from the harvest
- Members are often introduced to new items, adding a culinary surprise of different produce than might normally be selected at the store
- Members enjoy a closer tie to the farm, seeing the crops change throughout the season, and having the chance to interact more closely with farm staff
- Members become involved in a community of farmers and eaters committed to healthy food and a cleaner environment, and have the opportunity to truly connect with their food.
This is truly one of the best ways to support a local food system!
Read below about some of our members who offer a CSA program in the area.
Broadfork Farm is a small family farm in Chesterfield, VA providing the metro-Richmond area with Certified Naturally Grown vegetables and herbs. No synthetic/chemical fertilizer, pesticide, herbicide, or fungicide is ever used in any part of the process of growing their food. Everything they sell is grown by them with the utmost care and attention to providing the community with the most nutritious delicious food available. Members receive a weekly “Farm Share” of vegetables each week, from May-November with new options this year for customizable boxes and bi-weekly shares. The Farm Share provides members with the first priority of vegetables, the most variety, and the best selection. Vegetables are available for pick up in locations and farmer’s markets around the city. Learn more here.
Community Food Collaborative is a non-profit farm located next to Fairfield Middle School in the East End. What began in 2014 as an after school service learning program held in a small school garden has evolved into a 6-acre diversified farm that serves thousands of students and families through sustainable food production, education, and economic opportunity. They are currently cultivating a little over an acre, and planning for more with cover crop. They are also located next to a Chesapeake Bay watershed, and are incorporating more than just farming principles into their education program with the school. This year they will offer two CSA options – one for the spring season and one for the fall season. Paying an equal value of $20 per week for the full share you choose between 6-8 items from their market table each week. Learn more here.
Bow Tide Farms owners Joe Jenkins and Josh Dziegiel are farming organically on 3/4 of an acre in Richmond’s Northside to grow more organic vegetables for local restaurants and their neighborhood community. With years of experience behind them working at various farms and gardens Joe and Josh decided it was time to take the next step and create an urban farm. Their CSA program will begin in late May and run for 20 weeks and cost $500. Pick-up will be Saturday morning at the farm, and they only have 10 spots available so act quickly if this one interests you! Contact [email protected] for more information or follow them on Facebook here.
Situated on 180 acres hugging the Chickahominy River in Ashland, Chickahominy Falls is redefining 55+ communities through a commitment to healthy living and special amenities that balance play with purpose. At the heart of the community is Woodside Farms, a 10-acre, four-season farm that will produce a curated mix of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers selected for their health and wellness benefits for active adults. Other signature amenities include The Barn with a professional demonstration kitchen and a Clubhouse overlooking a pool, fishing pond, miles of walking trails, outdoor fitness stations and so much more. In their first year they will be offering a ‘Fresh From The Farm’ weekly share to anyone who wants that week’s bounty. These will be available for pickup at the barn (10447 Woodside Farm Drive, Glen Allen, VA, 23059) and availability will be released each week in a weekly newsletter. Please email mayco[email protected] to get on the mailing list or for more information.
Little House Green Grocery is a small independent market located in Richmond’s Northside working hard every day to support our local farmers and vendors. If you haven’t been to this market, it’s a true gem and we highly recommend stopping by. They carry loads of local products and partner with many of our member farms including Tricycle and Community Food Collaborative. They offer a weekly “Veggie Box” subscription we wanted to share. Although this is not a traditional CSA model they do work hard to support our local farmers so we wanted to include them! Learn more here.
There are many more great CSA opportunities in the Richmond area, this is just a sampling from our members. We hope you will invest in the local food system and support your farmers!
What is CSA Day?
In 2015, Small Farm Central released the 2014 CSA Farming Annual Report, which gathered data from more than 250 CSA farmers and almost 53,000 memberships. Among other interesting facts, the report showed that the most popular day for CSA Signups in 2014 was Friday, February 28. So in 2015, the first National CSA Signup Day was held on Saturday, February 28. We are taking this opportunity to support our local farmers and promote one of the best ways to purchase local food.