During these uncertain times brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, buying a share in a Community Supported Agriculture farm, or CSA, makes more sense than ever. The Land Stewardship Project's 2020 edition of the Twin Cities, Minnesota & Western Wisconsin Region Community Supported Agriculture Directory — available online at landstewardshipproject.org/stewardshipfood/csa — lists more than 40 farms that provide vegetables, as well as meat and other products, to shareholders.
By joining a CSA operation, consumers can be assured of receiving regular shares of fresh, nutritional food throughout the growing season while supporting local farmers in the community. CSA members pay a fee before the season, and in return farms provide food via a variety of delivery and pick-up options. Several farms provide flexible payment options and opportunities to become involved via harvest days and other activities. LSP’s directory not only provides farm descriptions and contact information, but tips for choosing the CSA operation that’s right for you.
During the past three decades, the Minnesota-Wisconsin region has emerged as a hotspot for CSA farming operations, which are a key part of the overall local and regional food economy. The Congressional Research Service has estimated that in the U.S., local food sales totaled $11.8 billion in 2017, with nearly 8 percent of farms and ranches participating.
The coronavirus outbreak could cost local and regional food systems $1.3 billion in lost sales from March to May 2020, according to a study released recently by researchers at Colorado State University and the University of Missouri. Agricultural enterprises that market through farmers markets, farm stands, K-12 schools, universities and restaurants are all being severely impacted by the outbreak. The vast majority of farms involved in local and regional food systems are small and are often operated by beginning farmers, according to the study.
Over the years, a growing number of eaters in the region have learned that joining a CSA farm not only gives them access to fresh, sustainably produced food, but helps support a key part of the local agricultural economy. Signing up for a share now can ensure access to healthy food while making sure these kinds of operations weather this storm and remain a critical part of the local food scene.