In my research to find local food resources I learned of a system called Community Shared Agriculture (CSA). CSA is a food distribution system where the growers are directly connected to the consumer. The consumer subscribes to a share of the year’s harvest (i.e. pays a flat fee up front) from a local farm in early spring, and in return, the shareholder receives a box of fresh produce weekly during the growing season. The share subscription provides the farmers with the capital to purchase seeds and farming supplies, and the shareholder gets an amazing supply of farm fresh produce weekly.
The size and variety of the shares depend on the farm you purchase from. Generally speaking, the farms offer at least a large and small size share. Some farms also offer a fruit box in addition to the veggie option. At Everdale Organic Farm , shareholders also have free access to the culinary herb garden, the flower garden for fresh cut flowers, and all the beans and peas you can pick when they are in season.
I think this is a fantastic idea - it really is what local eating is all about - supporting and connecting with the people who grow my food. I do have one reservation though - I LOVE going to farmers’ markets and checking out the different vendors each week. By signing up to be a shareholder, it eliminates the need to go to the markets, hmmm….I guess I can still go for the fish and local cheeses and all sorts of other goodies. On the other hand, I’ll get to try new veggies I normally wouldn’t buy and learn new recipes. Now the next question is: who should I sign up with? There’re quite a few close to the Toronto area. To minimize the environmental impact, I should pick one that is close to home.
Here are the CSAs I’ve found in Ontario so far; they are all in our database:
Everdale Organic Farm - near Guelph
Plan b Organic Farm - near Hamilton
rare Organic Farm - Cambridge
Simpler Thyme Organic Farm - Hamilton
Thurston Organic Farm - near Lindsay
Whole Circle Farm - Acton
Click here for an in-depth article on CSA from Green Living Ideas.
To find a CSA near you, go to our Find Local Food page and choose "CSA" as the supplier type.