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Community-Supported Agriculture: A sustainable alternative to industrial agriculture?

June 2000

Cynthia Abbott Cone, Andrea Myhre


CSA stands for community-supported agriculture and it creates a relationship between small farmers and those who buy memberships and receive locally produced and fresh produce. It is a way for the community to buy directly from these farmers and share some of the risk of up-front costs associated with farming. This article collects data from eight CSA farms for five years and examined the perceptions of these farms, motivations for memberships, and how women play a role. They found that many farmers found the work rewarding as they got to care for their community and build a relationship with those buying their crops.

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Policy Implications

Community-Supported agriculture alleviates a lot of the financial barriers associated with farming. Many farmers are in debt from the costs of inputs to food production and the members of CSA’s pay before the season to cover these costs. It also is very sustainable because it encourages eating with the seasons, eating the food that is harvested at certain times of the year rather than eating food that has to travel miles to reach grocery stores because a crop is out of season. This saves a lot of energy used in transportation and preservation of crops in traditional food production.

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