There are almost two million farms in the USA. About 80% of those are small farms, and a large percentage are family owned. More and more of these farmers are now selling their products directly to the public. They do this via CSA programs, Farmers' Markets, Food Coops, u-picks, farm stands, and other direct marketing channels. Would you like to support your local farmer? Use our map to find a small farm near you!
Large scale chemical agriculture is poisoning our soils and our water, and weakening our communities. By buying direct from a family farm you can help put a stop to this unfortunate trend. By buying organic produce from your local farmer, you are working to maintain a healthy environment, a vibrant community, and a strong and sustainable local economy for you and your kids to thrive in.
Community Supported Agriculture
Thinking about signing up for a CSA but want to learn more about the idea before you commit? Read on.
Over the last 20 years, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. Here are the basics: a farmer offers a certain number of "shares" to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a "membership" or a "subscription") and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.
This arrangement creates several rewards for both the farmer and the consumer. In brief...
Advantages for farmers:
* Get to spend time marketing the food early in the year, before their 16 hour days in the field begin
* Receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm's cash flow
* Have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow
Advantages for consumers:
* Eat ultra-fresh food, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits
* Get exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cooking
* Usually get to visit the farm at least once a season
* Find that kids typically favor food from "their" farm – even veggies they've never been known to eat
* Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown
It's a simple enough idea, but its impact has been profound. Tens of thousands of families have joined CSAs, and in some areas of the country there is more demand than there are CSA farms to fill it. The government does not track CSAs, so there is no official count of how many CSAs there are in the U.S.. LocalHarvest has the most comprehensive directory of CSA farms, with over 2,500 listed in our grassroots database. In 2008, 557 CSAs signed up with LocalHarvest, and in the first two months of 2009, an additional 300 CSAs joined the site.