Attempting to Define Community Supported Agriculture
At its heart, a CSA farming operation is a combined effort between a farm and a community of supporters (“harvest shareholders” or “members”) that creates a direct relationship between the production and consumption of food: Each season the harvest shareholders provide the money (and sometimes other resources) needed for the farm to operate by purchasing a “harvest share” of the season’s harvest. Operating costs include seeds, labor, growing supplies and soil-building amendments. By making this commitment a harvest shareholder assumes with the farmer the risks and the rewards of growing the food they will eat. In turn, the farm distributes to the harvest shareholders the production of the farm: a wide variety of seasonally harvested fresh produce, usually on a weekly basis, throughout the growing season(s).
The CSA model is an economically viable way for small scale farmers to produce a small amount of a wide variety of high quality vegetables in an earth-friendly way. CSAs foster responsible relationships between the grower, the consumer, the food, and the land on which the food is grown.
This text used with permission from the Oregon Sustainable Agriculture Land Trust
Evolution of CSA
In Japan, Teikei groups, or consumers creating direct relationships with farms started forming in the 1960‘s. Models in Europe are traced back to Biodynamic farms in Germany and Switzerland during the same time period.
Early US CSAs
The first US CSA farms were started in 1986 in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Both of those farms, Temple Wilton Farm and Indian Line Farm are still operating as CSAs
CSA Comes to Portland
The earliest CSA farms in the Portland area were started in the early 1990’s. The name PACSAC was adopted in the the early 2000’s after the group had already been meeting for many years.
2008 Portland Stats
The city of Portland surveyed CSA farms in 2008 and found 1,884 shares sold inside Portland City limits. CSA farm sizes ranged from 3 to 400 shares with 18 farms represented
(collected by Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability)
Media On CSA
Sharing the Harvest, Farms of Tomorrow, From Asparagus to Zucchini, Farmer John’s Cook Book
The Real Dirt on Farmer John