Rhode Island 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 is most of us), and the Rhode Island farmers who grow them together. The program 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 Rhode Island CSAs Work
Grocery shopping is a whole lot easier for Rhode Island CSA subscribers. Rather than having to wade through the produce section every 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's a concept that is increasing in popularity across the country since it cuts out the middleman, guarantees farm-fresh produce at cheap prices, and is good for the environment because it minimizes transportation costs, as well. CSA subscriptions generally run from early May through September or October, based on where you reside.
Benefits of CSAs in Rhode Island
What are the advantages of joining a Rhode Island CSA program? Well, the produce doesn't have to be moved 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 significant advantage is the produce is just about as fresh as you can get, because it's selected, sorted and shipped generally on the same day.
Often, it's less costly than buying produce through a RI supermarket, because it does away with the middleman and connects the consumer and the local farmer without any markup on profit. Rhode Island CSAs benefit the local economy, too, simply because they keep the revenue right in the area, instead of sending it to other countries or other states where produce may originate.
Rhode Island CSA Programs Are on the Rise
Just a few short years ago, a CSA program probably didn't exist in your Rhode Island 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 will 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 RI individuals know they are eating right, and community supported agriculture programs offer a wide selection of options, including;
You don't have to live right next to an agricultural area, either, often farmers will spread their produce around in several different 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 handled by local food co-ops or service organizations, while farmers often coordinate their own CSAs, too. If you know a farmer, determine whether they're offering a CSA program, and if they're not, give them a hint! These programs benefit almost everybody involved, plus they are easy to start and maintain, so there isn't any reason why your community should do without one.
CSA Apprenticeship in Rhode Island
Even if you think you cannot afford to belong to a Rhode Island CSA, don't despair. Many farmers are providing apprenticeships for many who can not afford to purchase a membership for a season. You're working 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 an excellent feeling. So, help a farmer, feed your family better, and save money by joining a Rhode Island CSA in your area.