I love my Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share! On Thursdays I pick up my CSA share from the Michigan State University (MSU) Student Organic Farm. I love it for multiple reasons. My share includes the freshest possible organic vegetables, varying each week according to the season.
The foods are of the highest quality in appearance and taste, and it is reasonably priced. At the MSU farm, the full-year share costs $540 for each sixteen-week cycle. I split my share with a friend, so about $16.50 per week gives me a bag or two (or sometimes three) of fresh, locally produced goods. Organics from a grocery store would cost much more, and they would be of a lower quality in appearance and nutrition because of time elapsed through shipping. It is fun to receive some foods I have never tried or would not usually find at the grocery store. That encourages me to be more creative in cooking, and the variety leads to better nutrition. An added bonus is my weekly visit to the farm (near campus) where I enjoy the room full of fresh, colorful produce and connect with friendly people.
The MSU Student Organic Farm Offerings and Facilities: The MSU program offers both summer shares and year-round shares. At various times of the year, extras are available for purchase on “pickup” day. Such extras include raspberries, pears, strawberries and truly free-range eggs. The MSU farm has four passive greenhouses and two additional greenhouses that are heated for starter plants. To learn more about MSU’s program see http://www.msuorganicfarm.com/
How does a CSA program operate?
Payment and operations: A CSA member makes a single payment at the start of a season or cycle. This payment allows the farmer to purchase seeds, meet expenses during the growing season, and purchase and repair equipment. Some CSAs are for the primary growing season from about June through October. Others are year-round and offer root vegetables and greens raised in passive solar greenhouses (hoop houses) during the cold season.
Delivery: Many CSAs require that the member pick up the share each week at the farm or other designated location. In some cities such as New York and Chicago, delivery to the member’s doorstep is offered for an additional small fee.
CSAs around the United States: The USDA estimates that there are about 2,500 CSAs in the U.S. . For more information see: What is a CSA?, CSA in NYC, http://www.justfood.org/csa (last visited Nov. 6, 2013).
Copyright © 2013 for photos and text by Paulette L. Stenzel
Paulette L. Stenzel
I am Professor Emeritus of International Business Law and Sustainability at Michigan State University (MSU). I am also a mom, learner, writer, violinist, environmentalist -in -process, traveler, and avid reader. I continue to teach part time at MSU and coordinate the Broad College Ethical Leadership program Additionally, I advise Spartan Global Development Fund - a student-driven microfinance organization.