Food Box & CSA: Community Supported Agriculture

Community Supported Agriculture

csa-dropCommunity Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a partnership between farmers and community members working together to create a local food system. CSA farmers produce fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, or related products directly for community members who become shareholders by paying in advance for farm products. In this way, customers share the risks of production with the farmer.

PDF: Community Supported Agriculture (from the  Agricultural Urbanism Toolkit)

How does it work?

CSA memberships may range from $150 to $800, depending on the season length and the variety and quantity of food provided. The early payments provide capital up front when farmers’ need is greatest. The farm then supplies members with shares of farm-raised food items on a regular basis throughout the growing season and sometimes into the winter, depending on the farm and its products. A produce CSA, for example, might distribute five to 20 pounds of vegetables once a week for 10 to 25 weeks, enough to feed two to four people.

Some CSAs provide workplace delivery or others central pickup sites, and in others, members come to the farm to get their shares. Linking their eating with the ebb and flow of the farm produce offers CSA members a more involved role in their food system.

CSA Benefits

  • Fresh food grown for taste and nutrition.csa-box
  • Knowledge of their food’s source and how it is grown or raised.
  • The opportunity to support local family farmers who practice sustainable agriculture.
  • Access to planned educational and recreational opportunities on the farm.
  • Information about nutrition, food prep

Food Box vs. CSA: What’s the Difference?

Community Supported Agriculture was originally defined by a very direct relationship between a farm and its customers. Starting in the 1980s (earlier in Europe and Japan), members banded together to support a local farm with a financial commitment to buy its produce. Click here to learn more about the History of CSA

As demand for local food has grown, so have other ideas for connecting farmers to customers. Food Hubs and other food aggregates now provide customers with “Food Boxes” containing products sourced from multiple farmers. Rather than a direct relationship between a grower and eater, the Food Box concept is facilitated by an intermediary distributor.

PDF: Food Boxes (From the Agricultural Urbanism Toolkit)

PDF: Developing a Worksite Food Box Program – Iowa Food Hub 

Choosing a Farm or Food Box

Community Supported Agriculture

There are currently several Community Supported Agriculture farms serving the Dubuque area. Click here to learn more.

Food Box

The Iowa Food Hub offers a Food Box program with weekly deliveries to Dubuque.

“We believe in a holistic model of rural development, which means that we include not only the farmers who grow our products, but also the processors who turn raw agricultural products into usable goods. As such, the food boxes include meat, milk, eggs, yogurt, produce, breads, and other products from Iowa farms and processors.

Click Here for more information on the Iowa Food Hub – Food Box

PDF: Developing a Worksite Food Box Program – Iowa Food Hub 

Other Resources

BLOG: What’s It Like to be a CSA Farmer (pt 1) by Carrie Chennault, Research Assistance with the ISU Extension & Outreach Local Foods Team.

BLOG: What’s it Like to be a CSA Farmer (pt 2) by Carrie Chennault