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Arizona CSA - Community Supported Agriculture Guide

What's a CSA?

A CSA, sometimes called a Community Supported Agriculture Program, is a program with the goal to put people who use farm-grown products, (and that's almost all of us), and the Arizona farmers who grow them together. This system works on a subscription basis. Subscribers can purchase a subscription to the produce service for either a growing season or for the whole year.

How Arizona CSAs Work

Grocery shopping is a whole lot easier for Arizona CSA subscribers. Rather than having to wade through the produce section weekly farmers do the work for them. Local farmers put together a weekly basket of produce (sometimes meat and dairy as well) and deliver it to an established, central location, or subscribers can pick it up at the farm.

It really is an idea that's getting more popular throughout the country since it keeps out the middleman, guarantees farm-fresh produce at cheap prices, and is good for the environment because it decreases transportation costs, as well. CSA subscriptions generally run from early May through September or October, dependent on where you reside.
 

Benefits of CSAs in Arizona

What are the advantages of joining a Arizona CSA program? Well, the produce does not have to be transferred to a warehouse or group of supermarkets, it's only transferred once, to the pick-up location, so subscribers are helping save on fuel costs and spare the environment from emissions. One significant advantage is the produce is just about as fresh as you can get, because it is chosen, sorted and shipped usually on the same day.

Often, it's less expensive than buying produce through a AZ supermarket, because it eliminates the middleman and connects the consumer and the local farmer without any markup on profit. Arizona CSAs profit the local economy, too, simply because they keep your revenue right in the area, instead of sending it to other countries or other states where produce may originate.

Arizona CSA Programs Are on the Rise

Just a few short years ago, a CSA program probably didn't exist in your Arizona community. They have really taken off in the last few years, and for good reason. They are a great way for farmers to know they will have a market for their crops, but they're a great way for the consumer to get high-quality products without breaking the bank, too.

Generally, the crops are organic, so health-conscious AZ customers know they're eating right, and community supported agriculture programs offer a wide selection of options, including;

  • Veggies
  • Fruits
  • Flowers
  • Meats
  • Cheeses

You do not have to live right next to an agricultural area, either, often farmers will spread their produce around in several different cities to ensure all their crops are spoken for.

If you don't have a CSA program in your community, talk to a local community service organization about starting one. Some are handled by local food co-ops or service organizations, while farmers often coordinate their own CSAs, too. If you know a farmer, find out if they're offering a CSA program, and if they're not, give them a hint! These programs benefit almost everybody involved, and they're simple to start and maintain, so there isn't any reason why your community should do without one.

CSA Apprenticeship in Arizona

Even if you think you can't afford to belong to a Arizona CSA, don't despair. Many farmers are providing apprenticeships for people who can not afford to purchase a membership for a season. You work in the fields for a pre-determined period of time each week, and find out more about the business of agriculture, and you receive a share of the crops in return. Now that's a win-win situation for everyone!

During a time when we worry about the quality of our food, how far it's traveled, and how long it's been sitting in a warehouse before it finally reached the supermarket, these novel programs can bring a little more peace of mind about where dinner's coming from and teach you new skills at the same time.

Even if you don't want to work in an apprenticeship, you can usually visit the farm and actually see where your next meal is coming from, and that's an excellent feeling. So, help a farmer, feed your family better, and save money by joining a Arizona CSA in your area.