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Florida CSA - Community Supported Agriculture Guide

What's a CSA?

A CSA, also referred to as a Community Supported Agriculture Program, is a program with the goal to put people who use farm-grown products, (which is just about all of us), and the Florida farmers who grow them together. The program 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 Florida CSAs Work

Grocery shopping is a whole lot easier for Florida CSA subscribers. As opposed to needing to wade through the produce section each week farmers do the job for them. Local farmers come up with 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 is an idea that's getting more popular throughout the country given it cuts out the middleman, guarantees farm-fresh produce at affordable prices, and is good for the environment because it cuts down transportation costs, as well. CSA subscriptions generally run from early May through September or October, dependent on where you reside.
 

Benefits of CSAs in Florida

What are the benefits of joining a Florida CSA program? Well, the produce doesn't have to be transferred to a warehouse or group of supermarkets, it's only moved 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 possible, since it is selected, sorted and shipped generally on the same day.

Often, it's less costly than buying produce through a FL supermarket, because it eliminates the middleman and joins the consumer and the local farmer without any markup on profit. Florida CSAs profit the local economy, too, because they maintain the revenue right in the area, instead of sending it to other countries or other states where produce may originate.

Florida CSA Programs Are on the Rise

Just a few short years ago, a CSA program probably didn't exist in your Florida community. They've truly taken off in the last few years, and for good reason. They are a great way for farmers to know they're going to have a market for their crops, but they are a great way for the consumer to get high-quality products having to break the bank, too.

Primarily, the crops are organic, so health-conscious FL consumers can be certain they are eating right, and community supported agriculture programs offer a wide array of options, including;

  • Veggies
  • Fruits
  • Flowers
  • Meats
  • Cheeses

You don't have to live right next to an agricultural area, either, often farmers will spread their produce around in a number of different cities to be sure all their crops are spoken for.

If you do not have a CSA program in your community, talk to a local community service organization about starting one. Some are maintained by local food co-ops or service organizations, while farmers often arrange 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 just about everybody involved, and they're easy to start and maintain, so there's no reason why your community should do without one.

CSA Apprenticeship in Florida

Even if you feel you can't afford to belong to a Florida CSA, don't despair. Many farmers are offering apprenticeships for people who can not afford to buy a membership for a season. You're employed 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!

At 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 arrived at 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 is an excellent feeling. So, help a farmer, feed your family better, and save money by joining a Florida CSA in your area.