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Tennessee 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's just about all of us), and the Tennessee farmers who grow them together. This system works on a subscription basis. Subscribers can get a subscription to the produce service for either a growing season or for the whole year.

How Tennessee CSAs Work

Grocery shopping is a whole lot easier for Tennessee 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 really is a concept which is getting more popular across the country since it cuts out the middleman, ensures farm-fresh produce at reasonable prices, and is good for the environment because it cuts down transportation costs, as well. CSA subscriptions primarily run from early May through September or October, dependent on where you reside.
 

Benefits of CSAs in Tennessee

What are the advantages of joining a Tennessee CSA program? Well, the produce does not 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 benefit is that the produce is just about as fresh as possible, since it is chosen, sorted and delivered typically on the same day.

Often, it's less costly than buying produce through a TN supermarket, because it eliminates the middleman and connects the consumer and the local farmer without any markup on profit. Tennessee 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.

Tennessee CSA Programs Are on the Rise

Just a few short years ago, a CSA program probably didn't exist in your Tennessee community. They have really gained popularity 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 TN individuals know they're eating right, and community supported agriculture programs offer a wide selection 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 several diverse 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 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 just about everyone involved, and they're simple to start and maintain, so there's no reason why your community should do without one.

CSA Apprenticeship in Tennessee

Even if you think you cannot afford to belong to a Tennessee CSA, don't despair. Many farmers are offering apprenticeships for people who can not afford to buy 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 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 a very good feeling. So, help a farmer, feed your family better, and save money by joining a Tennessee CSA in your area.