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Washington 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's most of us), and the Washington farmers who grow them together. This 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 Washington CSAs Work

Grocery shopping is a whole lot easier for Washington CSA subscribers. Instead of having to wade through the produce section weekly 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's a concept which is increasing in popularity around the country because it cuts out the middleman, assures farm-fresh produce at affordable 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, depending on where you live.
 

Benefits of CSAs in Washington

What are the benefits of joining a Washington CSA program? Well, the produce doesn't need to be moved to a warehouse or group of supermarkets, it's only transported once, to the pick-up location, so subscribers are helping save on fuel costs and spare the environment from emissions. One significant advantage is that the produce is just about as fresh as you can get, since it is chosen, sorted and shipped usually on the same day.

Often, it's cheaper than buying produce through a WA supermarket, because it eliminates the middleman and links the consumer and the local farmer without any markup on profit. Washington CSAs profit the local economy, too, since they keep the revenue right in the area, instead of sending it to other countries or other states where produce may originate.

Washington CSA Programs Are on the Rise

Just a few short years ago, a CSA program probably didn't exist in your Washington community. They've definitely gained popularity in the last few years, and for good reason. They are a great way for farmers to know they are 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 WA individuals can be sure they're eating right, and community supported agriculture programs offer a wide array 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 a number of diverse cities to make 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 organize 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 almost everybody involved, plus they are simple to start and maintain, so there isn't any reason why your community should do without one.

CSA Apprenticeship in Washington

Even if you think you cannot afford to belong to a Washington CSA, don't despair. Many farmers are providing apprenticeships for people who can not afford to buy a membership for a season. You're employed in the fields for a pre-determined period 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 a very good feeling. So, help a farmer, feed your family better, and save money by joining a Washington CSA in your area.