Community Supported Agriculture

Contents

Introduction

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. 

In a traditional CSA model…

  • Members share the risks and benefits of food production with the farmer.
  • Members buy a share of the farm’s production before each growing season.
  • In return, they receive regular distributions of the farm’s bounty throughout the season.
  • The farmer receives advance working capital, gains financial security, earns better crop prices, and benefits from the direct marketing plan.

"Current business models for CSAs are diverse and innovative. Producers have adapted the CSA model to fit a variety of emerging direct marketing opportunities, including:

  • Institutional health and wellness programs;
  • Multi-farm systems to increase scale and scope;
  • Season extension technologies; and
  • Incorporating value-added products, offering flexible shares, and flexible electronic purchasing and other e-commerce marketing tools."

T. Woods, M. Ernst, and D. Tropp. Community Supported Agriculture – New Models for Changing Markets. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service, April 2017.

Find Local Food and CSAs Near You

Search State and regional farm directories

  • Local Food Directories:Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Directory. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service.
    The CSA Directory lists farm or network/association of multiple farms that offer consumers regular (usually weekly) deliveries of locally-grown farm products during one or more harvest season(s) on a subscription or membership basis.

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What is Community Supported Agriculture

Marketing through Community Supported Agriculture

History

Surveys and Statistics

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Where to Find More Information

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Search AGRICOLA, the National Agricultural Library (NAL) Catalog.
AGRICOLA (AGRICultural Online Access) is a bibliographic database of citations to the agricultural literature created by the National Agricultural Library (NAL) and its cooperators. Records describe publications and resources encompassing all aspects of agriculture and allied disciplines. [Learn more about AGRICOLA.]

  1. Search AGRICOLA: 
    • Find books, articles, electronic documents and other formats.
    • Example search terms / phrases: ("community supported agriculture") OR ("community supported farm?") OR ("CSA farm?") OR ("subscription farm?") OR (teikei)
  2. Subject browse in AGRICOLA:
    • Articles: Subject Search Then, select the Subject tab. Enter: "community supported agriculture" and select "hit the Enter key.
    • Books: Subject Search. Then, select the Subject tab. Enter: "community supported agriculture" and hit the Enter key.

Review Community Supported Agriculture - Automated Database Searches to search additional resources.

Additional Information for Farmers

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Community Food Systems: Farm-to-School, Food Circles, and Farmers’ Markets

  • Local Food Systems. U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Library, Alternative Farming Systems Information Center.
  • Community Food Systems. U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Library, Food and Nutrition Information Center. Links to dozens of publications, programs and Web sites.
  • Farmer's Markets. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service. Includes a state-by-state directory.
  • Food Security Learning Center. World Hunger Year (WHY)
  • Local Food Systems: Concepts, Impacts, and Issues. 2010. S. Martinez, M. Hand, M. DaPra, S. Pollack, K. Ralston, et. al. 2010. 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."

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The Sustainable/Organic Agriculture Connection

Information from USDA
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 Information 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.

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Compiled by:

AFSIC staff
The Alternative Farming Systems Information Center
National Agricultural Library
U.S. Department of Agriculture
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Reviewed September 2021

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