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New York 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 most of us), and the New York farmers who grow them together. This system 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 York CSAs Work

Grocery shopping is a whole lot easier for New York CSA subscribers. Instead of needing to wade through the produce section each week farmers do the job 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 getting more popular throughout the country given it cuts out the middleman, ensures farm-fresh produce at reasonable 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, based on where you live.
 

Benefits of CSAs in New York

What are the advantages of joining a New York CSA program? Well, the produce doesn't have to be transported 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 key advantage is that the produce is just about as fresh as possible, because it's selected, sorted and shipped typically on the same day.

Often, it's less expensive than buying produce through a NY supermarket, because it gets rid of the middleman and joins the consumer and the local farmer without any markup on profit. New York CSAs benefit 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.

New York CSA Programs Are on the Rise

Just a few short years ago, a CSA program probably didn't exist in your New York community. They have truly taken off in the last few years, and for good reason. They're 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.

Primarily, the crops are organic, so health-conscious NY customers can be sure they are eating right, and community supported agriculture programs offer a wide array 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 distinct cities to make 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 managed by local food co-ops or service organizations, while farmers often coordinate 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, and they're simple to start and maintain, so there is no reason why your community should do without one.

CSA Apprenticeship in New York

Even if you think you cannot afford to belong to a New York CSA, don't despair. Many farmers are providing apprenticeships for those who can't 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 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 an excellent feeling. So, help a farmer, feed your family better, and save money by joining a New York CSA in your area.