Do you like fresh, high-quality fruits and vegetables?
Do you like trying new ingredients, like garlic scapes or kohlrabi?
Do you like the idea of really knowing where your food comes from and building a relationship with those growing it?
If so, community-supported agriculture may interest you.
What is community-supported agriculture?
Community-supported agriculture (CSA) is essentially another way to buy direct from a farm. To become a member of a farm’s CSA program you pay a one-time fee at the beginning of the season. As a member you receive a weekly box of fruits, vegetables and depending on the farm, meats, eggs, honey, preserves, tea, soap or other products throughout the growing season.
This model of agriculture is mutually beneficial, providing consumers with healthy, local food in a convenient way and farmers with capital and diminished risk. Bruce Berry, who owns and runs Almost Urban Vegetables with Marilyn Firth and their sons, says that with marketing happening before the season, CSA allows them to focus on farm production during the very busy and short Manitoba growing season. Both sides also benefit from individual relationships and the sense of community that develops through chats at pick-up, farm visits, newsletters, and recipe sharing.
What does CSA look like in Winnipeg?
Bruce, who also organizes CSA Manitoba, believes CSA members get the freshest possible produce and better value than at the farmer’s market. The quality and variety of produce, coupled with supporting a local business are reasons he believes members continue to buy shares. The results from our survey of CSA members (full results below) echo his sentiments.
Results suggest that people in Winnipeg are buying into CSA programs to support the local economy, eat sustainably grown food and feel better about where their food comes from. Members also enjoy learning about the seasonality of Manitoba’s harvest and adjusting their eating habits accordingly.
As far as who is buying shares in CSA farms, results show Winnipeg based members tend to be younger (66% between 25 and 44) and live in Crescentwood, River Heights, or Wolseley. This information points to huge potential for growth in CSA in Manitoba. Think CSA might be for you? Please visit the CSA Manitoba website for information on local CSA farms.
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