Community Supported Agriculture (or CSA, for short), is (according to Wikipedia) “an alternative, locally-based socio-economic model of agriculture and food distribution. A CSA also refers to a particular network or association of individuals who have pledged to support one or more local farms, with growers and consumers sharing the risks and benefits of food production. CSA members or subscribers pay at the onset of the growing season for a share of the anticipated harvest; once harvesting begins, they receive weekly shares of vegetables and fruit, in a vegetable box scheme, and also sometimes herbs, cut flowers, honey, eggs, dairy products and meat, as well. Some CSAs provide for contributions of labour in lieu of a portion of subscription costs.”
Living in a rural community, we’re lucky to have access to a lot of CSAs. We’re very excited that this coming season, we’ll be a part of Heritage Harvest Farm‘s full diet year-round CSA. While many CSAs focus on one particular type of product (ie. just produce, or just meat), this CSA is more comprehensive – hence the term ‘full diet’. Each week starting in May, we’ll receive a basket with enough food to feed two adults for the week. This will include plenty of fresh produce, fresh herbs, quinoa and dried beans, a dozen eggs, 4 packets of meat (a mix of chicken, turkey, pork, and beef), maple syrup (as needed), and 2 loaves of homemade bread. When it’s available, they also sometimes throw in fresh preserves. Everything in the basket is grown, raised, or made on the farm. We can get a lot of our cheese from the fabulous Back Forty Artisan Cheese, so the only additional food we’d need to supplement from the grocery store would be milk and some baking supplies (many of which we can buy at the Natural Food Store in town).
Heritage Harvest Farm is an organic farm dedicated to ethical standards. The animals are pasture raised and kept humanely, fed a natural diet, are not injected with hormones, and are totally free-range (not just cage free – they have constant access to the outdoors and roam freely). The family who runs the farm invites members of the CSA (or the general public) to drop by the farm at any time to visit, look around, and see first hand how the animals are raised. CSA members are also welcome to pick extra produce or herbs at the farm to preserve for the winter (although we continue to receive baskets all winter, so it’s not essential).
We’re really looking forward to the Spring, when we’ll be receiving our first basket! If you’re interested in joining a CSA, you can check out the Ontario CSA Farm Directory here.