Community Supported Agriculture is a farming system. It connects the producers and consumers with each other within the food system. In this system consumer can select the harvest from a specific farm or group of farms. It reduces the risk of farming, by sharing risk between producer and consumer. This is an alternative socio-economic agricultural model which is a subcategory of civic of agriculture. This helps to the strength the local markets.
Consumers receive a box of produce weekly or biweekly in this system. This box is full of vegetables, fruits. Other than that, it may include eggs, meat, milk, dried goods etc. Farmers send letters to subscribers or consumers informing them about the situation of the farm, or when holding an open-farm event or inviting them to harvest the farm produce.
Some people help in growing the crops or to rear animals in the farm as a labor and get pack of harvest as lieu of their service.
History and present situation
The “Community Supported Agriculture” term initiated in 1980s at Northeastern United States. But influenced by European biodynamic agricultural ideas.
Canada and United States are the countries that mostly use the term “Community Supported Agriculture”. But this concept is practicing all over the world in various terms.
Community Supported Agriculture System
Community supported agriculture focus on local community and aim of this concept is to produce healthy food by using biodynamic farming methods. There is greater involvement of consumer and other stakeholders. So, the consumer-producer relationship is stronger within this system. Community supported agriculture can reduce the food wastage risk and can focus on good quality food.
There are three common characteristics of this system. They are: an emphasis on community or local produce, weekly delivers to subscribers and share prior to season. Although operations under this concept are differ from farm to farm, these three characteristics are constant. In here the consumers have opportunity to give ideas to producers (farmer) about their needs and financial status. There by the producers can know the community needs. Then they will be able to produce consumer or the market-oriented products. This system really helps to strengthen the commitment between producers and consumers.
There are four main types of this system. They are farmer cooperatives, farmer managed cooperatives, shareholder cooperatives and farmer-shareholder cooperative.
Most original community supported agriculture systems have core group of members. This group members help to make decisions and run the system. So, the community supported agriculture system which have core group members are successful and profitable.
Distribution and marketing methods
Originally and predominantly, shares of this system are the produce of the farm. But now shares are diversified. It includes non-produce products like meat, flowers, eggs, soaps, honey, and dairy products also. Prices of shares vary from one system to another system. Shares are selling as full shares and half shares. Full shares can feed two to five people and half shares can feed one to three people. Overhead cost of production is the major factor of share prices. Other systems of modern farming or marketing, market forces, variable cost of production and income level of the community also considered. Most community supported agriculture systems have low-income options and payment plans.
Shares are distributed in different ways and mostly by weekly. Most of these systems allow share in pick up method at the farm. Also shares can be distribute through direct home, markets, regional drop off and community centers. Community supported agriculture systems market their shares and farms in several ways. This system uses different marketing channels to diversify their sales. Some of those are local farmer markets, on farm retail, restaurants, and wholesales. Over production is a major problem under this Agriculture systems. So, producers sell their products to local farmer’s markets and sometimes give the excess amount to food banks.