Hello, I’ve been to many farmers markets but what are community-supported agriculture farms?

Jennifer of Edmonton

Community-supported agriculture farms, or CSAs, are similar to your local farmers’ market in that they get you one step closer to the farmer who grows your food.

What’s different is that you also get closer to the risk involved in growing food. You too will be watching the weather, monitoring rain gauge and hoping for bumper crops!

Not to be confused with many local and organic buying clubs or home delivery services, a CSA allows you to buy in (with shares) at the start of the growing season. In turn, you receive your dividends in the form of onions, zucchini, strawberries and more!

As the consumer, you pay a CSA farmer a set fee that allows you to enjoy the farm’s bounty with the inherent risk of farming spread across a larger group of people. Although each CSA is unique, you’ll likely get a wide variety of fresh, delicious, and often certified organic produce.

What you won’t get is a guaranteed specific amount and list of produce each week.

It’s best to contact a CSA in your area to find out how it operates. Sometime shares are work-free; others require you to help sow seeds, weed and harvest. Some farms also offer eggs and meat either as part of the share or to be purchased separately.

In Alberta, check out CSAAlberta.com for a list of growers. Other provinces have networks of CSAs as well.

Many deliver to your door or offer drop-off sites from about June to October. Sign up for a CSA farm to enjoy locally sourced food that’s picked at the time of ripening and to support local farmers and sustainable farming practices.

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