Iowa 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 just about all of us), and the Iowa 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 Iowa CSAs Work
Grocery shopping is a whole lot easier for Iowa CSA subscribers. Instead of having to wade through the produce section each week 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 is a concept that's catching on around the country since it keeps out the middleman, ensures farm-fresh produce at cheap prices, and is good for the environment because it cuts down transportation costs, as well. CSA subscriptions primarily run from early May through September or October, dependent on where you live.
Benefits of CSAs in Iowa
What are the advantages of joining a Iowa CSA program? Well, the produce does not 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 that the produce is just about as fresh as you can get, because it's picked, sorted and delivered generally on the same day.
Often, it's cheaper than buying produce through a IA supermarket, because it does away with the middleman and connects the consumer and the local farmer without any markup on profit. Iowa CSAs help 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.
Iowa CSA Programs Are on the Rise
Just a few short years ago, a CSA program probably didn't exist in your Iowa community. They've definitely 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're a great way for the consumer to get high-quality products having to break the bank, too.
Generally, the crops are organic, so health-conscious IA customers know they are eating right, and community supported agriculture programs offer a wide array of options, including;
You do not have to live right next to an agricultural area, either, often farmers will spread their produce around in several distinct cities to be sure 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 maintained by local food co-ops or service organizations, while farmers often manage their own CSAs, too. If you know a farmer, determine if they're offering a CSA program, and if they're not, give them a hint! These programs benefit just about everyone involved, plus they are simple to start and maintain, so there isn't any reason why your community should do without one.
CSA Apprenticeship in Iowa
Even if you think you can't afford to belong to a Iowa CSA, don't despair. Many farmers are providing apprenticeships for many who can not afford to buy a membership for a season. You're employed in the fields for a pre-determined amount of time each week, and learn 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 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's a very good feeling. So, help a farmer, feed your family better, and save money by joining a Iowa CSA in your area.