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Minnesota 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 Minnesota farmers who grow them together. The program works on a subscription basis. Subscribers can buy a subscription to the produce service for either a growing season or for the whole year.

How Minnesota CSAs Work

Grocery shopping is a whole lot easier for Minnesota CSA subscribers. Rather than 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 really is an idea that's increasing in popularity throughout the country given 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, depending on where you live.
 

Benefits of CSAs in Minnesota

What are the benefits of joining a Minnesota CSA program? Well, the produce doesn't need to be moved to a warehouse or group of supermarkets, it's only transported once, to the pick-up location, so subscribers are helping save on fuel costs and spare the environment from emissions. One key advantage is the produce is just about as fresh as possible, since it is selected, sorted and sent generally on the same day.

Often, it's less costly than buying produce through a MN supermarket, because it gets rid of the middleman and connects the consumer and the local farmer without any markup on profit. Minnesota CSAs help the local economy, too, because they keep the revenue right in the area, instead of sending it to other countries or other states where produce may originate.

Minnesota CSA Programs Are on the Rise

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

Usually, the crops are organic, so health-conscious MN consumers know they are eating right, and community supported agriculture programs offer a wide array of options, including;

  • Veggies
  • Fruits
  • Flowers
  • Meats
  • Cheeses

You don't need to live right next to an agricultural area, either, often farmers will spread their produce around in many distinct 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 maintained by local food co-ops or service organizations, while farmers often organize 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 almost everybody involved, and they are easy to start and maintain, so there is no reason why your community should do without one.

CSA Apprenticeship in Minnesota

Even if you feel you cannot afford to belong to a Minnesota CSA, don't despair. Many farmers are providing apprenticeships for people who can't afford to buy a membership for a season. You work in the fields for a pre-determined period of time each week, and find out 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 Minnesota CSA in your area.