2012 PRESS RELEASES
Click here to e-mail this page to a friend.
January 6, 2012
SIGN UP FOR A CSA NOW TO ENSURE YOUR SUBSCRIPTION FOR 2012
Contact: Elaine J. Lidholm, 804.786.7686
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) encourages consumers to sign up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) subscription now. “Last year we heard of people who waited too late and couldn’t get into a CSA for the year,” said Matthew J. Lohr, VDACS Commissioner, “so this year we’re advising consumers to sign up now. January is the optimal time for consumers and this early timeframe also assists farmers in planning ahead and ordering seeds for the coming season.”
A CSA offers a way for consumers to purchase advance shares of a farm’s products in return for regular deliveries during the growing season. CSAs allow the share holders to experience life on the farm by sharing the risks of agriculture, such as poor harvests due to weather and pests, along with the rewards, a bounty of seasonal fresh-from-the-vine or tree produce.
“The CSA has many advantages,” Lohr said. “Members know where all the food comes from, how it was grown, who harvested it and when. They learn to eat seasonally, enjoying foods that arrive according to nature’s timetable. Everything the CSA provides is field-fresh, flavorful and nutritious because deliveries usually take place weekly and the travel time and distance from farm to fork are kept to a minimum.” He adds that another part of the appeal is simply variety. Instead of two or three varieties of apples, peaches, tomatoes or sweet corn, subscribers may be able to choose from five or six, including some heritage varieties no longer grown on a large commercial scale. “If you eat by the colors, you may be able to enjoy an orange eggplant or tomato in addition to the standard colors,” said Lohr. Many CSA farms also allow Farm Share members to work on the farm or harvest their own shares as a cost saving option.
CSA operations have experienced a rise in popularity on both the national level and in Virginia. Currently VirginiaGrown.com lists 86 CSAs, but that number likely will rise throughout the winter. Farmers also continue to refine the CSA concept to enhance the benefits for customers. They are learning new techniques to extend seasons and collaborating with other farmers to bring a longer growing season and a wider variety of share offerings to their members. For example, Firsthand Farmers Cooperative in the Charlottesville area is a CSA owned by six area farmers who work together to bring a diverse array of products to their customers. They offer produce and mushroom shares. Participating farms include Appalachia Star Farm, Mountain View Farm Products, Paradox Farm, Sharondale Farm, Stone House Farm and Twin Springs Farm. Many CSA farmers are expanding their customer base to reach organizations such as businesses, corporations and civic groups.
Participating in a CSA is a great way for consumers to connect with agriculture but it is also important for consumers to recognize that, like any other business transaction, they should make sure they clearly understand the terms and conditions that a CSA share offers. Consumers should discuss their expectations with the farmer offering the CSA and understand the risks assumed in the event of drought or other natural disaster or event that can affect agricultural output.
VDACS’ advice to farmers or groups offering CSAs is to list their farms or coops on the VirginiaGrown.com website. They can do this online or by calling 804.225.3663 for more information.