CSAs (called “teikei,” the Japanese version of the CSA) began in Japan in the 60s. The concept spread to the U.S. in the 70s and 80s, and is becoming more popular as the slow food movement grows. Wonder what it’s like to belong to a CSA? Check-out this short video to get the idea.

To learn more about how a CSA farm works, one we’ve joined and have reviewed is Garden City Harvest. Typically your share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Some farms may give members the option to buy honey, fruit, flowers, eggs, wool/yarn, meat and other specialties at an additional cost. Besides getting all the vegetables everyone recognizes, a side benefit is learning about “new” veggies you probably wouldn’t try otherwise. There are many CSA databases available to help locate a CSA in your neighborhood.

CSA farmers are happy to answer your questions so don’t be shy about asking:

  • How many years have you been farming?
  • How many seasons have you been doing a CSA?
  • What is the size of a share? Do you offer half shares?
  • What is your system for storing and transporting the produce once it is harvested?
  • Are members welcome on the farm, and what community events are held?
  • Is there a farm work requirement?

CSA operations provide more than just food; they offer ways for consumers to become involved in the human community that supports the farm. If you are looking for food products that are in danger of disappearing, like the Mayflower bean, the Slow Food’s “Ark of Taste” project provides a list of U.S growers and producers. As more young people become environmentally aware and interested in sustainability, it’s reassuring that many see farming as a way to integrate their interest in the earth with a hands-on career. Any boomer locavores out there with a special CSA program or experience to share?