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. Typically, members or "share-holders" of the farm or garden pledge in advance to cover the anticipated costs of the farm operation and farmer's salary. In return, they receive shares in the farm's bounty throughout the growing season, as well as satisfaction gained from reconnecting to the land and participating directly in food production. Members also share in the risks of farming, including poor harvests due to unfavorable weather or pests. By direct sales to community members, who have provided the farmer with working capital in advance, growers receive better prices for their crops, gain some financial security, and are relieved of much of the burden of marketing.
AFSIC also has developed specific resources on this topic. They include:
Data collected in 2007 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicates that 12,549 farms in the United States reported marketing products through a community supported agriculture (CSA) arrangement. Information by state is also available in:
2009 Survey of Community Supported Agriculture Producers. (July 2009) Cooperative Extension Service, College of Agriculture, University of Kentucky. Analysis of survey findings on the business and marketing practices of 205 CSA farms in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and West Virginia. http://www.uky.edu/Ag/NewCrops/csareport.pdf
CSA Across the Nation: Findings from the 1999 CSA Survey. (2003) Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS), College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Provides the first comprehensive portrait of the CSA movement in the US. Findings from a 1999 national "census" survey show commonalities and diversity among CSA farms. http://www.cias.wisc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/csaacross.pdf
Community Supported Agriculture Entering the 21st Century:
Results from the 2001 National Survey. (undated) D. Less, A. Bevis, G.W. Stevenson, J. Hendrickson, and K. Ruhf. Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS), College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Presents the results of a 2001 survey of 300 Community Supported Agriculture farms in 43 U.S. states. Continues the 1999 survey as described in the report CSA Across the Nation: Findings from the 1999 CSA Survey, above. http://www.cias.wisc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/csa_survey_01.pdf
Community Supported Agriculture on the Central Coast: The CSA Member Experience. (2003) Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS), University of California. http://escholarship.org/uc/item/5wh3z9jg
Marketing Your Organic Produce. In Final Results of the 4th National Organic Farmers Survey: Sustaining Organic Farms in a Changing Organic Marketplace. p. 48-51. (2004) Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF). Survey conducted in 2002. http://ofrf.org/publications/survey.html
"History of Community Supported Agriculture," Unit 4.1 In Teaching Direct Marketing and Small Farm Viability: Resources for Instructors. (2005) Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems, University of California, Santa Cruz.
Lecture Outline and Appendix: The Ten Founding Principles of the Teikei System in Japan. http://22.214.171.124/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/4.1_CSA_History.pdf
AGRICOLA (AGRICultural Online Access) is a bibliographic database of citations to the agricultural literature created by the National Agricultural Library (NAL) and its cooperators. The records describe publications and resources encompassing all aspects of agriculture and allied disciplines.
[Learn more about AGRICOLA.]
Search strategy: ("community supported agriculture") or ("community supported farm???") or ("CSA farm???") or ("subscription farm???") or ("box scheme?") or ("teikei")
Tip: To browse AGRICOLA using other terms, go to http://agricola.nal.usda.gov/.
Under the NAL Catalog or the Articles Database column, select "Browse," select "Subject Browse," enter a subject term in the box labeled "Find," and then select "Submit."
Publications from the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program.
Publications include Marketing Strategies for Farmers and Ranchers; and
Building a Sustainable Business: A Guide to Developing a Business Plan for Farms and Rural Businesses. http://www.sare.org/publications/
Missouri Alternatives Center (University of Missouri Extension) database of full-text publications from many states. http://agebb.missouri.edu/mac/links/index.htm
[select "C", then "Community Supported Agriculture" for links to 14 documents]
Local Food Systems: Concepts, Impacts, and Issues. (May 2010) S. Martinez, M. hand, M. DaPra, S. Pollack, K. Ralston, et. al. USDA. Economic Research Service. "'This overview of local food systems explores alternative definitions of local food, estimates market size and reach, describes the characteristics of local consumers and producers, and examines early indications of the economic and health impacts of local food systems." http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/err-economic-research-report/err97.aspx#.UWcE8axKCSo
The U.S. Department of Agriculture supports three major programs that offer sustainable agriculture information and assistance. Whether you are a farmer, an educator or a researcher seeking more information about sustainable agriculture in general, about a specific crop, or help with a specific problem, these programs can help. Contact information for each program and a description of each program's area of specialization are provided below.
Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program
Provides grant opportunities; maintains diverse portfolio of research projects; synthesizes research results and on-farm experiences to develop books, introductory bulletins and educator guides.
ATTRA - The National Sustainable Agriculture Informtion Service, a program of the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT)
National information service answers questions about specific farming practices and innovative marketing approaches, including organic production. http://attra.ncat.org
Alternative Farming Systems Information Center (AFSIC)
Collects, organizes and distributes information on alternative agriculture and provides high-level searching and reference services from the National Agricultural Library's vast collection and world-wide databases. http://afsic.nal.usda.gov