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Published on April 07, 2014

Is a CSA Share Right for Your Family?

Use these simple questions to figure out if a CSA share will work for your family.

As the weather warms up, there is a lot to look forward to in our area—especially farm fresh fruits and veggies. CSA (community supported agriculture) shares make it easy to take advantage of all the nutritious food that local farmers have to offer. Members simply sign up for a share from the farm of their choice and pick up a new batch of locally grown produce each week.

Before purchasing a CSA share, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Am I Committed to Incorporating Fresh Produce into My Meals? CSAs require payment up-front for a season (or longer) of produce, and a new bundle of fruits and veggies will be ready for pickup each week. Before signing up, make sure that you and your family can commit to incorporating fresh produce into your meals on a regular basis. Headed on vacation this summer? Invite a family member or neighbor to enjoy your share while you’re away!
  • Can I Be Flexible with My Meal Plans and Recipes? Each week you’ll receive a box of produce that includes whatever crops are currently in season. Be ready to make the most of what you get, from rhubarb and asparagus in the spring to zucchini and sweet corn in the summer months.
  • Am I Ready to Expand My Produce Palette? CSA shares can provide you and your family with the perfect opportunity to try foods that you don't normally pick up at the supermarket. Your weekly share will include whatever is in season at the time, providing the perfect chance to get familiar with your local crops and try a new recipe packed with fresh ingredients.
  • How Involved Do I Want to Be? While most members simply pick up their fresh produce each week, some farms allow participants to pay for their shares by committing to working a set number of hours. The CSA Coalition provides plenty of other ways to support local farmers, from special fundraising dinners at local restaurants to unique outings like Bike the Barns, where you can visit local farms and sample artisan delicacies.

In the Madison area, nearly fifty farms are part of the FairShare CSA Coalition. To find the right farm for you, use their online tool and search by type of produce, cost, farm location and season length. Some farms even offer specialty items, including eggs, flowers, cheese or meats.

Have you signed up for a CSA share in the past? Share your tips for finding the best fit below!

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