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South 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, (which is almost all of us), and the South Carolina 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 South Carolina CSAs Work

Grocery shopping is a whole lot easier for South Carolina CSA subscribers. As opposed to having to wade through the produce section each week farmers do the work 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 catching on throughout the country since it keeps 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 usually run from early May through September or October, dependent on where you live.
 

Benefits of CSAs in South Carolina

What are the advantages of joining a South Carolina CSA program? Well, the produce does not have to be transferred 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 benefit is the produce is just about as fresh as you can get, since it is chosen, sorted and sent usually on the same day.

Often, it's less costly than buying produce through a SC supermarket, because it eliminates the middleman and joins the consumer and the local farmer without any markup on profit. South Carolina CSAs profit the local economy, too, simply because they maintain the revenue right in the area, instead of sending it to other countries or other states where produce may originate.

South Carolina CSA Programs Are on the Rise

Just a few short years ago, a CSA program probably didn't exist in your South Carolina community. They've really 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 without breaking the bank, too.

Primarily, the crops are organic, so health-conscious SC individuals can be sure they are eating right, and community supported agriculture programs offer a wide variety 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 several 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 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 are easy to start and maintain, so there isn't any reason why your community should do without one.

CSA Apprenticeship in South Carolina

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