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Your local CSA: 3 reasons to join

This spring our family decided to try something we have never done, or even heard of before. We joined a local CSA.

What is a CSA?

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Basically, that means you have a local farm that is supported by community members who purchase a “share.”  Typically, shares are picked up weekly and contain a variety of fruits and vegetables.

Why should you join?

We have had such a positive experience with our CSA.  Here are my top three reasons you should look into joining one in your area.

growing plants

1. You get fresh, locally-grown, organic produce.

Of course, this is the main benefit to joining a CSA.  You can feel good about improving your local economy while enjoying the freshest possible produce.

We have found the fruits, vegetables, eggs, and honey to be the highest quality we’ve ever tasted with a minimal increase in price.

Keep in mind that many small farms use organic growing practices, but can’t afford to become USDA certified. This means you get organic produce without the big price tag.

Our particular farm raises chickens for eggs and uses the litter as a source of nitrogen instead of commercial fertilizer.  They also use rooting hogs to clear fields, and even use draft horses and a plow to break the ground in some fields.

Each farm will have its own growing practices, so be sure to ask your farmers. They will be happy to share their passion for farming and growing great food with you.

2. It forces you out of your cooking comfort zone.

Each week we pick up a basket full of goodies, some of which were virtually unknown to me before we joined.

I might skip over them in the grocery store, but since I’ve already purchased them in advance, I’ll find some way to use them. It has really expanded our menu.

I have to add, our particular farm has been wonderful about including recipes with each week’s share, kick starting our meal ideas.

3.  It is a hands-on lesson for your children about the origin of their food.

toddler visits farm

Even though our son is still just a toddler, I want him to begin to understand that food doesn’t come from a box in the grocery store.

I can think of no better place for him to learn than on the very farm where his food is grown.  The family that runs our CSA farm was thrilled to let Miles, our 18 month old, explore the rows of strawberries on a recent visit.

Here are a few tips, if you’re serious about getting started with a CSA in your area:

  • Check an online resource like Local Harvest to find a farm near you.
  • Start looking now for next spring.  There is often a waiting list, and you can get discounts by signing up early.
  • Many farms offer a fall share with their CSA — ask around!
  • Consider splitting a share with another family to cut costs and pick up responsibilities.

Are you in a CSA? What’s your favorite benefit to being part of one?

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  1. Rachel (Hounds in the Kitchen)

    One of the top reasons my family is in a CSA (a fruit only one, as we grow our own veggies and have chickens for eggs), is that I get the best choice produce without waiting in farmer’s market lines. Fruit, especially, sells out quickly at our farmer’s market. With the CSA I have a guaranteed share and don’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn to ensure my part of the harvest.

    • Emily @ The Pilot's Wife

      A fruit only CSA sounds great! We are big fruit eaters and our CSA is only a small portion of fruit. I love how quick and easy picking up our share is vs fighting the crowds!

  2. Katie

    Thanks for the post. I am a mother of three in rural North Dakota and from a 5th generation farming family. Overall support of all farmers and the entire agricultural industry is important. I would also encourage to learn why conventional family farms are needed to continue to advance agriculture in order to feed the world and booming global population.

    • Emily

      Thanks Katie! I have a lot of respect for farming families! It is such hard work.

    • Emily

      We got lucky and snagged one of the last spots this year. I will sign up earlier next year for sure!


    I can’t wait to join our next year! All the local ones filled in December (AND I started looking in Jan), so I’ll have to stick to Farmer’s Markets this time around. I do have a rule, though, at our small farmer’s market… I always try anything they are selling! I’ve discovered a love for all types of squash, greens, and cabbage this way 🙂

    • Emily

      I wish we had a good farmer’s market where we live, so at least you have access to that! I would start checking out your options now.

  4. Hannah

    I am just about to join a new CSA in my area. They’ll be delivering a box to my home every two weeks. I am really looking forward to being part of one again.

    • Emily

      Every two weeks would be a good schedule I think. We pick ours up once a week and we sometimes have to share with neighbors. I think I could stretch to two weeks!

  5. prasti

    excellent reasons for joining. i couldn’t agree more. we’ve been participating in a CSA for the past 3 years and love it!

    • Emily

      That’s so great! I’m hoping to get better about trying new recipes the more we do it.

  6. Alissa

    We love our CSA. We split a share with another family by alternating who picks up the bag each week. That way, I spend one week stretching our menu to accomodate the produce and the next week I can cook our “old favorites.” This has been a crucial way for us to get adjusted to the CSA program.

    We also love that our CSA is run by friends (former co-workers) that live 20 minutes from town and they’re willing to host a field trip for our playgroup each summer!

    • Emily

      I think that’s really smart! We may look in to sharing next year, since we sometimes have more than we need now. Thanks for the reminder!

  7. Rebecca @ Unexplained X2

    Sooooo true! We joined one for the first time this year and I love it. It’s like a free field trip for the Crazies every single week. You’re so right about cooking outside of your comfort zone too…it’s really made me think about how I’m forming my meals!!!

    • Emily

      I was a little afraid my toddler would trample something important, but the people that run ours are so great, and love to show him around!

  8. Emily

    We have a food co-op rather than CSA, but it’s very similar. What I love most is being able to drive 2 minutes to my neighbor to pick up food every other Tuesday, as opposed to trucking almost 20 minutes to the HFS.

    I also save a few bucks, and the greens are SO much fresher! I am hoping, though, to be able to quit the co-op in a year or two b/c we will be growing most of our own produce. 😉

    • Emily

      Good luck growing your own! I’m so impressed with those who are good at gardening!

  9. Wendy

    Just a quick note that while some CSAs use organic practices (even if they aren’t certified), not all of them do. It’s best to ask if you’re not sure.

    • Emily

      Good advice, Wendy!

  10. Niki

    I love love LOVE our CSA. We’ve been members for a year this summer. The food is phenomenal and it does get me out of my comfort zone of cooking. Sometimes we get a different variety of a “normal” produce, something we don’t see in the store. It’s so exciting.

    • Emily

      Ours has lots of stuff our local stores don’t carry! It’s so nice.

  11. Jenna

    We joined a CSA farm this year for the first time. We’ve received our first harvest bin, and are looking forward to our first work day this weekend. Another reason for us to join is to learn about gardening. We are planning to grow more vegetables ourselves, but it will a gradual process. Being involved in CSA should help us learn and implement effective growing strategies.

    • Emily

      That sounds like a good plan. I’m not sure I want to tackle growing my own, so this is a good solution for us.

  12. Ivy

    I honestly did not know such a thing existed! I’ve been searching for option for organic produce for the last few months. Thank you so much for this! I found three farms right in this area, one even offers a modified CSA by sending you weekly menus of what’s available. And that one delivers right to your home!! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

    • Emily

      Yay! I’m so glad to share and glad there’s so many good options in your area. Enjoy!

  13. renee @ FIMBY

    I’m convinced and what great timing! I just posted about how I menu plan using our weekly csa veggies. I linked back to this post. Our family has gained so much more than good veggies from being members for the last 6 years.

    • Emily

      Thanks so much for the link! Great post!

  14. Laura W.

    I totally agree with getting out of the meal routine! Our CSA is Bell Organic ( and I love the pressure to come up with some way to use the what’s-it-called that came in our box for that week. 🙂

    • Emily

      I’m so glad ours comes with a description sheet or else I’d never remember what was what some weeks!

  15. Suzanne

    Thanks for the link to find a local CSA!

  16. Emily

    You’re welcome!

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