Since the 1970s, community-supported agriculture programs (CSAs) have helped farmers reduce their financial risk while making it easier for them to get crops directly to consumers. A farm’s CSA members buy a share of its potential produce at the beginning of the year, and then receive portions of the farm’s bounty throughout the growing season. In this way, CSA programs create a network among farmers and their surrounding communities. Thousands of CSAs keep thousands of households around the United States supplied with locally grown food.
Historically, there’s been little effort to unite disparate CSAs, or to universally define what being a CSA truly means. Following the example of programs around the world, farmers in the United States are now proposing a CSA charter that establishes a national definition of what it means to be a CSA. Another goal is to strengthen ties among existing CSAs.
The charter clarifies the definition of a CSA, specifying that members must receive only produce grown on a farm directly from that farm (no go-between), and that CSAs should distribute high-quality, healthful, and nutrient-dense foods. Any CSA in support of the charter can display the charter’s logo to signify its commitment to upholding these values. This provides an extra level of transparency between farmers and CSA members while making the definition of a CSA standardized and simple for consumers to understand.
Find more information on the universal charter for North American CSAs.