There is a growing trend in our communities; some may be growing in your neighbor’s fields. It’s called Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Library, CSAs consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community’s farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production.
“In a nutshell a farmer offers a certain number of ‘shares’ to the public,” said Adam Millsap of Urban Roots Farm in Springfield, Mo. “A share usually consists of a box of vegetables, but sometimes other products, such as eggs, milk, meat or fruits are available. Interested consumers purchase a share and in return receive a container of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season. There are many configurations of CSA programs, but this is generally how they work.”
Paul Casey, Farm Manager and Ryan Neal, Garden Educator works on a daily basis with the CSA efforts with Heifer Ranch in Perryville, Ark.
“The CSA Program allows Heifer International to educate ranch guests and program participants about how small-scale agriculture is beneficial to a family living in poverty, the basics of vegetable production, and the benefits of consuming fresh vegetables,” Casey and Neal said. “For our clientele, which for the most part is school age children, the “basics of vegetable production” is not how to grow vegetables but rather where do they come from. The program is also used for training Heifer International project farmers.”
Heifer Ranch CSA program typically produces more than 28 varieties of vegetables, flowers and herbs during an 18-week period.
Millsap and Urban Roots Farm offers nearly 50 varieties of vegetables per year. They also cooperate with other local producers to provide eggs and milk to be delivered to their farm for sale.
“Many of our members love their farm, and find time to spend helping out from time to time,” Millsap said. “Some CSAs require members spend some time working on the farm each season, and some have member volunteers who help run the CSA.”
According to Millsap, CSA holds value for both the farmer and the members.

Farmer Advantages
• Direct connection with the people they are feeding (know your farmer, know your food)
• Cash flow improvement
• Predictable income

Member Advantages
• Extreme freshness, straight from the field to member’s kitchens
• A direct connection with the people growing their food
• A better understanding of what goes into growing great food
• Many folks tell us their kids eat things from our farm that they’ve never eaten before, and they ask for more
• Exposure to new foods
• Opportunities to meet like-minded people


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