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West Virginia 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 just about all of us), and the West Virginia 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 West Virginia CSAs Work

Grocery shopping is a whole lot easier for West Virginia CSA subscribers. Rather than 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 an idea that's increasing in popularity throughout the country given it cuts out the middleman, guarantees farm-fresh produce at reasonable 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 West Virginia

What are the advantages of joining a West Virginia CSA program? Well, the produce does not have to be moved 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 advantage is the produce is just about as fresh as you can get, because it is selected, sorted and shipped generally on the same day.

Often, it's cheaper than buying produce through a WV supermarket, because it eliminates the middleman and connects the consumer and the local farmer without any markup on profit. West Virginia 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.

West Virginia CSA Programs Are on the Rise

Just a few short years ago, a CSA program probably didn't exist in your West Virginia 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 are going to have a market for their crops, but they are a great way for the consumer to get high-quality products without breaking the bank, too.

Generally, the crops are organic, so health-conscious WV 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 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 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 manage 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, and they are easy to start and maintain, so there is no reason why your community should do without one.

CSA Apprenticeship in West Virginia

Even if you feel you can not afford to belong to a West Virginia 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 period 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!

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 West Virginia CSA in your area.