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Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin CSAs Work

Grocery shopping is a whole lot easier for Wisconsin CSA subscribers. Rather than needing to wade through the produce section every week farmers do the work 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 an idea that is getting more popular around the country because it cuts out the middleman, assures farm-fresh produce at affordable 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, based on where you live.
 

Benefits of CSAs in Wisconsin

What are the benefits of joining a Wisconsin CSA program? Well, the produce doesn't need to be transported 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 key advantage is that the produce is just about as fresh as possible, because it is picked, sorted and sent usually on the same day.

Often, it's less costly than buying produce through a WI supermarket, because it does away with the middleman and links the consumer and the local farmer without any markup on profit. Wisconsin CSAs help the local economy, too, simply because they keep your revenue right in the area, instead of sending it to other countries or other states where produce may originate.

Wisconsin CSA Programs Are on the Rise

Just a few short years ago, a CSA program probably didn't exist in your Wisconsin community. They've really gained popularity in the last few years, and for good reason. They are a great way for farmers to know they're 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.

Primarily, the crops are organic, so health-conscious WI individuals know they are eating right, and community supported agriculture programs offer a wide variety of options, including;

  • Veggies
  • Fruits
  • Flowers
  • Meats
  • Cheeses

You do not have to live right next to an agricultural area, either, often farmers will spread their produce around in a number of diverse 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 organize 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 just about everyone involved, plus they are easy to start and maintain, so there is no reason why your community should do without one.

CSA Apprenticeship in Wisconsin

Even if you feel you can't afford to belong to a Wisconsin 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 an excellent feeling. So, help a farmer, feed your family better, and save money by joining a Wisconsin CSA in your area.