October 16, 2010 -- I am kicking myself because here it is fall and I never got around to planting fall veggies in my vegetable garden. So, since I'm a disorganized gardener, I'm thinking of signing up for a local farm's fall CSA –to save the day AND save money.
CSA stands for "Community Supported Agriculture." You've probably heard of CSAs because they are all the rage, but did you know that they can save you money? "CSAs" are groups of people who band together to buy fresh produce from a local farmer. Every week during the growing season, you get a share of the farmer's crop. The farmer selects the items that are the most ripe and ready. Many CSAs now extend their season to include fall crops like spinach and squash.
The produce is usually delivered to a central spot, like a community center or church, where you pick it up. Many groups were started decades ago by hippies ahead of their time who wanted organic foods. More recently, as commercial produce prices have gone up, average folks have jumped on the band wagon – or vegetable cart.
For a Good Morning America story, I visited a CSA in Sandy Spring, Maryland where members get fresh, beautiful produce 21 weeks a year. Their cost is $28 per week for a big box of nine different things. Carolyn H. (a yuppie –not a hippie!) told me she joined to get pesticide-free produce for her kids, but soon realized she was saving money too. I compared prices with a local organic grocery store and she was right.
Benefit of Buying Fresh Veggies from a Farmer
Grocery store price for 9 organic vegetables: $39.96
CSA price for 9 organic vegetables: $28.33
Dollar Savings= $11.63
BIG SAVINGS= 29%
Cha ching! That's about $250 a year plus you get the benefit of a cooking/eating adventure. Farmers benefit too, because they have a guaranteed market for their products.
You can look up CSAs in your area at www.LocalHarvest.org.
Or try the Department of Agriculture's website for resources,here.