Written by Kayley Winkelman, ESLLC 2016-2017
CSAs or Community Supported Agriculture is founded on the idea that people should eat locally, seasonally, and sustainably. CSAs are becoming more and more popular and common throughout the United States due to the increased awareness of current climate and environment concerns. CSAs offer people fresh produce (and somethings meat dairy products too) that were grown on a local farm that often utilizes organic growing methods and sustainable farm practices. It is typical for people to receive weekly bags of seasonal produce from their CSAs along with recipes and news about the farm.
There are numerous benefits to participating in a CSA, for one it is often much cheaper that buying fresh produce from the grocery store or even from a farmer’s market. This is due to not having to pay to transport the produce and pay store employees while still making a profit for the farmers. Even farmer’s markets often have higher costs because they have to factor in the cost of the leftover produce they don’t always sell, whereas with CSAs all the produce goes to the consumers and there is very minimal to no leftover produce waste. Another economical advantage of CSAs is that you are supporting a local, sustainable business. This is allowing local farmers to be able to maintain making a living off of their farms without having to resort to unethical and unnatural methods.
Many of these farms utilize natural cycles of plants and animals. CSAs most often do not rely on fertilizers and chemicals to grow their produce, but rather choose to implement integrated pest management control utilize animal waste as their natural fertilizers. By reducing their need to use fertilizers these farms are able to grow their produce in a much more environmentally friendly manner by eliminating fertilizer and chemical runoff. They are also not giving their animals growth hormones and antibiotics to keep them alive because they rely on their animals to do much more than just provide meat. Chickens are often used to graze the produce fields and eat the pests that would ruin the produce. So, once they eat all the pests in one area they are just moved to the next area that needs attention. Their droppings also act as great fertilizers as well.
For these reasons and many more, CSAs offer a great produce alternative to the typical grocery store experience. With a fixed price you pay only once at the beginning of the season, people are able to enjoy fresh, naturally and locally grown produce all season long. University of Denver has even partnered with two CSAs, Leffler Family Farms in Eaton, Colorado and Ela family Fruit Farms in Hotchkiss, Colorado. Students are even able to sign-up for a share the dropped off produce!