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Support local farmers while adding fresh vegetables to your diet

Community supported agriculture helps reduce waste and lets local farmers know their product is going somewhere.
Fresh local vegetables are provided to CSA members

Fresh local vegetables are provided to CSA members /John Rothwell

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Fresh local vegetables

Fresh local vegetables /John Rothwell

Local grown vegetables from the Grand Rapids area.

Local grown vegetables from the Grand Rapids area. /John Rothwell

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a distinctive model to support diversified, small scaled vegetable growers. The idea is that people buy into a share of the farm at the beginning of the season. Instead of money dividends, your dividends are the produce from the farm. Every week members show up at the farm and they will get a box of produce that the farm has harvested that week.  

CSA is an important model for small scale farmers. Letting the farmer know that their crop has been sold before they put it in the ground is a huge benefit in reducing the loss of wasted food as well as letting the local farmer know that their product is going somewhere.

“In a big box store you have no idea where the product has come from,” said New City Urban Farm Director Lance Kraai.

Being a CSA member, you personally know that farm you go to every week and see where your food is grown, getting to know that farmer in way that you can't in any other way of purchasing produce.

“You know how the employees are treated," Kraai said. "How the environment is treated and what chemicals were sprayed on your food or not sprayed on your food."

For the consumer, the idea is supporting the local food first movement. Along with the customer connecting to the farmer, and knowing where their food is coming from.

CSA member Becky Black likes being able to support local businesses and the local food first concept.

“Our CSA is less than five miles away from us so its right down the road so we know our farmer,” Black said. “We have kids so being able to feed them a variety of vegetables is important to us and our CSA is an organic CSA.”

At New City Urban Farms they often hear families with children talk about how they could never get their kids to eat this or that. There’s a difference when a kid comes and sees this farm, Kraai said. They get excited about it. They might help pick cherry tomatoes that week and are feeling a connection to the fruit, as opposed to seeing it a plastic container in the grocery store. You don’t get the same kind of reaction. It’s natural after spending time at the farm that they want to go home and eat the produce.

Black’s son is the picky eater who loves going to the CSA.

“He goes in there and he will grab a carrot from the basket and eat it so he tries stuff from the CSA even though he may not like everything,” Black said.”He would have never have done that at a grocery store so it is instilling healthier eating habits.”

With the growing season being June thru October, the chance for a win-win situation of supporting local food first and adding healthy food to you diet is growing near.

More information on Grand Rapids local CSA’s can be found by visiting West Michigan Growers' Group or Local Harvest.

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