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View of allotments with healthy soil and lots of vegetables growing View of allotments with healthy soil and lots of vegetables growing

Community Supported Agriculture-An Incredible Way To Support Local Food

By Sara Venn

We are regularly asked by people at events and work parties, how they can support their local food growers and local economy and stop being so reliant on the supermarkets and the food system as we all know it.

Lots of people assume it means finding local farmers markets and farm shops but often even these do not guarantee a truly local source of fresh produce. Only last week on social media we were contacted by someone who was truly shocked that their local farm shop was stocking veg brought in from abroad, and wasn’t stocking anything from a local farm. Whilst many farm shops and markets do support their local food economy it is worth remembering that there are those that are just an alternative rather than an ethical alternative.

So how do we see through the marketing jargon and make decisions about what we want to eat and which producers we want to support? What seems alternative and what really is an ethical alternative? This is where community supported agriculture schemes come in.

So what is community supported agriculture? Well the clue is really in the name as it’s a project/business that is supported by the community, and that supports that community by growing usually veg but sometimes meat and/or dairy too. Usually the community buy shares in the CSA, which means they get a share of the harvest each week, and often within that share is a commitment to volunteer at the CSA on a regular basis. Some CSAs are single operations but some are a cooperative of small producers that fall under one name and support each other in distribution, bringing together different production under one name, and a shared set of ethics.

And talking of ethics the other great reason to support community supported agriculture is that these businesses not only support their human communities but also the land on which they grow. Whilst many are not actually certified as organic,(often for financial reasons and nothing else) the CSA charter is based on the 3 pillars of permaculture; those of  people care, earth care and fair share. With this in mind, most CSAs run on agroecological principles, and so by becoming a part of their community, you are supporting not just your local economy but also the planet on which we live. You can find out more about agroecology here https://www.incredibleedible.org.uk/news/agroecology-the-way-forwards-for-kinder-communities/

Most CSAs offer box schemes and attend local markets and events where you can buy their produce, and some have on site shops or sheds where you can go and buy produce from and see what the farm itself is like. The best part of any CSA of course is that it is 100% reliant on it’s community and by getting involvled you are another link in connecting that community to yours and beyond.

If you’d like firther information take a look at www.communitysupportedagriculture.org.ukwhere you’ll find more information and your local schemes.