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The birth of the CSA movement.
When I was growing up, most everyone I knew had a grandparent, an uncle or an aunt who had a farm they could visit during the summer. Now, the locavore movement, agritainment, sustainable farming, CSAs and the desire to protect and promote local green space have all come together to connect with modern families that no longer have farming kin, but want to know both where their food comes from and the farm family that grows it.
Suddenly, it seems to me, families have discovered new ways to visit a farm, have fun planning a meal around the food that came from that farm, save money and save the earth all in one whack-a-moley. It also fits perfectly with with a farmer's desire to share an understanding of what he does. Everyone wins.
Families are finding out why food grown on a family farm tastes better than that purchased from a grocery store. Varieties of fruits and vegetables grown on family farms are selected for their superior taste and flavor over varieties purchased from chain stores that were selected for their superior shipping and storage qualities.
Fruits and vegetables picked at peak ripeness have more vitamins and minerals in them, which make them not only more tasty but also a healthier choice.
There are as many kinds of CSAs to choose from as there are farmers who do them.
You should check out the local ones online first. Narrow them down to the ones that appeal to your personal taste and needs. Then go out and visit those farms to make a final decision.
Another major thing to consider is risk assessment. Most CSAs do not really guarantee X amount of product. This is because crop yields are subject to the whims of nature, insects and disease. Some CSAs have greatly minimized their risks. They have spread those risks by joining forces with other farmers in the area to offer a broader variety of fruits and vegetables. Look for farms that are able to irrigate their crops.
Also, farms that pursue sustainable farming through best management practices (BMPs) and crop rotation cut down on insect and disease problems naturally. Farmers who have learned to minimize risk tend to have more bountiful crops, which in turn will give CSA members a larger share.
On price, in order to compare asparagus to asparagus, check out how many items were given out per week in past years. The value of the kinds of items is important, too. For instance, fresh fruit is generally more valuable than fresh vegetables. The track record of the CSA or the reputation of the farmer should be investigated. A lot of this can be done by word of mouth and by researching online.