CSA by Vickie Kline

CSAIt’s that time of year again… time to think about your health and your eating plan for the new year. If you’ve adopted a more healthful attitude during 2013, take it one step further and consider joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. A CSA program is a great way to get healthful food and support local farmers. It’s a plan that works well for everyone.

A CSA allows customers to have access to high quality, fresh produce grown locally by regional farmers. CSA customers become “members” by paying the cost of an entire season of food upfront and purchasing a “share” of vegetables and fruits from a local or regional farmer. A full season of produce will typically run from $300 to $600, depending on the area where you live. This bulk payment enables the farmer to plan for the season, purchase new seed, make equipment repairs, etc.

Shares usually include 7 to 10 types of vegetables, enough for a family of 2 to 3 people, and are available weekly. But, ask the CSA farmer for more or less, depending on your personal needs. Often, the program will offer half shares for smaller households. It’s also possible to add eggs, meat, and spices to your order for an additional charge, depending on your area and the size of the CSA program.

As a CSA member, you invest in the farm by purchasing a share of  the crops produced. If weather conditions destroy the crop, you have lost your investment with no return. This is highly unusual, but again, something to consider depending on your location.

I am familiar with two CSA programs in my area of Wichita, KS,  – Home Grown Kansas and MGHonors. Doing a little research on the internet will tell you what’s available in your area and give more information on the specifics of each program.

My experience last year with a CSA program was wonderful. Each Wednesday, I picked up a bag containing everything from greens, to root vegetables, to fruits. It was always a fun surprise to see what was included, then plan my meals around that. For the times I received more than we could eat in one week, I froze the extra vegetables. When I had enough accumulated, I cooked them down and made a vegetable stock. So, this winter I’m still enjoying the benefits of the CSA program.

Check out the programs in your area. It’s a good way to eat healthy, support local farmers, and work your way toward a healthier lifestyle.

Strive to be healthy!

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