Community Supported Agriculture works in that a participant/ consumer buys shares in one or several local farms and shares the risks and rewards of the bounty.
“Shareholders get a unique opportunity to know the people that are responsible for growing their food and making a financial commitment to them before the growing season and receive a regular delivery of fresh fruits, vegetables, animal products and other items that are created locally,” says Jeff Williams CSA Utah, Great Salt Lake RC&D Coordinator for CSA Utah.
Many shareholders make selections based on price, amount and variety of produce, and this meet-and-greet will offer this info and more. “There is no one right answer [in choosing a CSA], just like shoes and cars, we all need and like different things. Honesty and integrity are some of the intangibles that consumers may want to consider,” Williams says. CSA Utah has a spreadsheet of locations and a map of delivery options at: http://www.csautah.org/find-a-csa to help in the decision process.
One CSA farm on the list is Bell Organic, which started in 1998 with a shovel and a half acre of dirt in Draper, Utah, and only a handful of restaurant and market accounts. This year they hope to have 500 CSA members on top of other long-term customers.
Over the years, co-owner Jill Bell hasn’t met a Utah farmer that didn’t want her to succeed; that spirit of collaboration is mighty amongst local farms. No matter the choice in farm tonight, she says making the right decision for the individual is paramount.
She shares some advice on picking the right CSA: “The truth to find success in a CSA is you cannot be too much of a control freak; you have to like the adventures that food and life can bring, and you have to want it. If you are looking for the kind of relationship that puts the customer and the business owner on equal footing as opposed to the customer coming first at whatever the cost (and the cost of this in farming is huge!) you will do fine. Ask questions and take the responsibility to understand what you are signing up for. Keep in mind that the CSA model is supposed to create a relationship between the farmer and the food eater and if you are not good at relationships maybe it is not the model for you.”
Attendees can sign-up for a CSA tonight, and it might be in their best interest because many farmers will be offering their best deals of the year. Williams says that after the short presentations are done, folks are strongly encouraged to have an active dialogue with these growers.