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North Carolina 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, (and that is most of us), and the North Carolina 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 North Carolina CSAs Work

Grocery shopping is a whole lot easier for North Carolina CSA subscribers. Instead of needing to wade through the produce section every week 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 which is catching on around the country because it keeps out the middleman, assures farm-fresh produce at affordable prices, and is good for the environment because it minimizes transportation costs, as well. CSA subscriptions usually run from early May through September or October, based on where you reside.
 

Benefits of CSAs in North Carolina

What are the advantages of joining a North Carolina 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 key benefit is the produce is just about as fresh as you can get, because it is chosen, sorted and delivered typically on the same day.

Often, it's less costly than buying produce through a NC supermarket, because it eliminates the middleman and links the consumer and the local farmer without any markup on profit. North Carolina CSAs benefit 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.

North Carolina CSA Programs Are on the Rise

Just a few short years ago, a CSA program probably didn't exist in your North Carolina community. They've really 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 NC consumers know they're eating right, and community supported agriculture programs offer a wide variety 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 many different cities to ensure 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 manage 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 are simple to start and maintain, so there is no reason why your community should do without one.

CSA Apprenticeship in North Carolina

Even if you feel you cannot afford to belong to a North Carolina CSA, don't despair. Many farmers are providing apprenticeships for those who can't afford to buy a membership for a season. You're working 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 North Carolina CSA in your area.