Community Supported Agriculture
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a direct farmer to consumer market, similar to farmers markets.
Consumers buy “shares” in the harvest and prepay before the growing season for a certain amount of
produce and/or other farm products during the harvest season. The upfront payment from the customer helps offset
expenses accrued during the season (for example, equipment management or seed purchase). Once the food is ripe
or produced, the farmers deliver the food directly to the consumer or a predetermined pick-up site, or customers
pick up their shares at the farm.
CSAs are sources of local food grown for freshness instead of shelf life. CSAs have the potential to increase consumption of fruits and
vegetables in families. Research conducted at West Virginia University shows that participating in a CSA
can cost up to 2.5 times
less than purchasing the same produce from local stores.
WIC and SNAP benefits can be used in some states to purchase CSA shares, and programs are available to help
subsidize the cost for low-income customers. Payment plans or a sliding scale for upfront payments can also be
used to increase the accessibility of CSA shares to low-income customers.
Producers running a CSA must establish and maintain relationships with consumers. CSAs can operate through
pre-existing groups such as workplaces in order to reach
larger groups of customers. Producers must be able to plan their yields and market their CSA shares months in
Resources to Learn More
Can CSA Cost-Offset Programs
Improve Diet Quality for Limited Resource Families?
Discusses the research component of the Community Supported Agriculture Cost-Offset Intervention to Prevent
Childhood Obesity and Strengthen Local Agricultural Economies project. Seeks to evaluate dietary outcomes and
local economic impact based on a number of interrelated interventions.
Author(s): Kolodinsky, J., Sitaker, M., Morgan, E., Connor, L., et al.
Organization(s): Agricultural & Applied Economics Association
Farmers Nationwide Guide to Accepting SNAP/EBT Payments
Guide for community supported agriculture (CSA) farmers outlining how to integrate SNAP/EBT payments into their
Organization(s): Zenger Farm
Towards Improving Healthy Food
Access Through Community-Supported-Agriculture-Farmshare Programs in Food Desert Areas and Among Low-Income
Study investigating community supported agriculture (CSA) programs as alternative food sources for low-income
Citation: Annals of Global Health, 82(3), 397-398