Bright red, ultra-tasty tomatoes. Fragrant cilantro and basil. Vibrant summer squash and sweet, juice-dripping-down-your-chin peaches. All are ripe for the picking with community supported agriculture (CSAs).
A CSA is an alternative, locally-based model of agriculture and food distribution that puts you in direct contact with the farmers producing your food. It also refers to the network of individuals who pledge to support the farmers. Members pay at the beginning of the growing season for a share of the anticipated harvest and share in the benefits and risks of food production. Some CSAs even allow members to substitute labor in place of fees.
Different fruits and vegetables are available at different times of the growing season. Weekly shares can consist of whatever is harvested at the time, from Swiss chard to cherries to cucumbers to apricots. Some farms complement their shares with honey, eggs, and meat, available for an additional cost. Items can usually be picked up at the farm itself or at various drops near your residence.
So why go this route versus just heading down to the grocery store? Glad you asked. There are many, many reasons, and the future of our food system and the country’s health depends on people understanding them.
To begin with, CSAs are better for both your health and the environment. According to Grant Family Farms in Wellington, CO, pesticide and fertilizer-laden runoff from the industrial food complex washes into rivers, lakes, and streams. This destroys habitat, kills wildlife, and exposes individuals and families living nearby to toxins. Many pesticides have been linked to respiratory problems, neurological disorders, cancer, and reproductive issues.
By supporting CSAs and organic agriculture, you’re rewarding farmers who are making the effort to do things the right way, without pesticides or chemicals. And you are ensuring that you and your children are eating food that is fresh, toxin-free, nutritious, and tasty.
On top of that, CSAs dramatically decrease the number of miles that food travels. Typically, according to Grant Family Farms, the average American meal includes ingredients from at least five countries outside the United States. Think about that for a second. And then think about the amount of pollution associated with that based on transportation alone.
And then of course there’s the fact that you are supporting your local economy. Money spent with nearby farmers and growers stays close to home and goes to the people who are actually cultivating your food.
Grant Family Farms says that Americans consume about $600 billion in food annually, with about 93% of that going to pay processors, packagers, distributors, wholesalers, truckers and the rest of the infrastructure a global food system demands. Why not cut out the middle men?
It’s a win, win, win for you and your family. And there are a number of options for CSAs in the Denver area, as well as across the state of Colorado. So take advantage of this great local resource and meet your local farmer. It’s a relationship that not only provides food the way it was meant to be eaten, but one that shows the way to reversing a domestic food system that has long been in decline.
- Delaney Community Farms, Denver, CO, 303.292.9900, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Door to Door Organics, Louisville, CO, 303.297.3636, email@example.com
- Ela Family Farms, Hotchkiss, CO, 970.872.3488, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Farm Yard CSA, Denver, CO, Contact Form
- Grant Family Farms, Wellington, CO, 970.568.7654, email@example.com
- Heirloom Gardens, Denver, CO, info@eatwhereUlive.com
- Urbiculture Community Farms, Denver, CO, 303.949.2901, Candice@urbiculturecommunityfarms.org
- Yokel Local Grower, Denver, CO, 303.808.7706, firstname.lastname@example.org
- View More CSAs