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New Jersey 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, (which is just about all of us), and the New Jersey farmers who grow them together. This 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 New Jersey CSAs Work

Grocery shopping is a whole lot easier for New Jersey CSA subscribers. Instead of having to wade through the produce section weekly farmers do the work 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 is getting more popular across the country since it cuts out the middleman, assures farm-fresh produce at cheap prices, and is good for the environment because it decreases transportation costs, as well. CSA subscriptions primarily run from early May through September or October, based on where you live.
 

Benefits of CSAs in New Jersey

What are the benefits of joining a New Jersey 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 significant advantage is that the produce is just about as fresh as possible, since it is picked, sorted and shipped usually on the same day.

Often, it's cheaper than buying produce through a NJ supermarket, because it gets rid of the middleman and joins the consumer and the local farmer without any markup on profit. New Jersey CSAs help the local economy, too, since they maintain the revenue right in the area, instead of sending it to other countries or other states where produce may originate.

New Jersey CSA Programs Are on the Rise

Just a few short years ago, a CSA program probably didn't exist in your New Jersey community. They've definitely gained popularity 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're 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 NJ individuals know they are eating right, and community supported agriculture programs offer a wide array of options, including;

  • Veggies
  • Fruits
  • Flowers
  • Meats
  • Cheeses

You do not need to live right next to an agricultural area, either, often farmers will spread their produce around in a number of different cities to make 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 arrange 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's no reason why your community should do without one.

CSA Apprenticeship in New Jersey

Even if you feel you can not afford to belong to a New Jersey CSA, don't despair. Many farmers are offering apprenticeships for many who can not afford to buy a membership for a season. You work in the fields for a pre-determined amount 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 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 is an excellent feeling. So, help a farmer, feed your family better, and save money by joining a New Jersey CSA in your area.