What is a CSA?

Community-supported agriculture (CSA) is a food production and distribution system that connects farmers and consumers directly. In the case of a community like Harvest Green by Johnson Development, residents are able buy shares of the farm’s harvest in advance of the season and receive a curated package of fresh, seasonal produce!

Community Supported Agriculture

According to data from the N.C. Cooperative Extension, there are currently 2,500+ CSAs in the United States, connecting farmers and health-conscious consumers. While there are a few different models for a CSA, the most common is a regular subscription for the buyers collected up front or in regular monthly or quarterly installments before the harvest. This provides the farmer with sustainable revenue at the beginning of the harvest season in exchange for fresh, seasonal produce for consumers.

How Does Harvest Green’s CSA Work?

Harvest Green is known as an agrihood, and residents at Harvest Green have the benefit of living close to a production farm that delivers their family’s favorites, including tomatoes, squash, carrots, kale and more. Like other CSAs, the residents’ purchased share of produce is delivered to their door on a weekly basis. 

The community also offers another popular method of community supported agriculture —the Harvest Green Farm Club, a residents-only private gardening and agricultural education club. Residents rent a growing plot within the community, gaining hands-on experience in tandem with the technical expertise of the on-site farm educators. Powered a monthly subscription fee, Farm Club members reap the benefits of growing their own food while supporting the community farm.

What Does  a CSA Offer?

Each CSA has different offerings, varying from community to community. Usually, a CSA offers freshly picked, often organic, seasonal produce on a regular schedule to subscribers. The contents of a CSA box are entirely dependent on the season, and some CSAs offer members a chance to help decide what can be grown and sent in the box.

  • Carrots
  • Basil
  • Eggplant
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Summer Squash
  • Peppers
  • Spinach
  • Rainbow Chard
  • Beets
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Snow Peas & Sugar Snap Peas
  • Salad Greens
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Romaine Lettuce

CSA offerings can even offer products like honey and fresh eggs. Due to natural variations in weather and soil conditions, each CSA is unique. If you’re looking for specific types of fruits, vegetables, and other products, reach out to your local CSA for more information.

Community Supported Agriculture also refers to other ways the community can support local farms in addition to the share box. Residents of Harvest Green and locals can also support area farmers by shopping at the farmer’s market, which sets up shop in the community once a week for residents to take advantage of the freshest produce.

How Much does a CSA cost?

Community Supported Agriculture is priced based on the concept of shares.  

The consumer commits to support the farm with a monthly subscription or upfront yearly payment before harvest. This amount consumers pay, or the share, determines how much produce the farm delivers.

For example, the Harvest Green CSA offers shares priced from around $18 to $27 per seasonal box of produce. Farmers stay in close communication with consumers to disclose upcoming produce plans and when to expect their favorite vegetables. 

Why Purchase Vegetables from a CSA Instead of the Grocery Store?

A 2021 brief by the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System says that, “The CSA movement aims to educate consumers that supermarket prices do not reflect the real costs of our industrial agricultural system.” While CSA shares may be a few dollars more than the average grocery bill for the same produce types, CSA costs reflect the true cost of local, sustainable agriculture and deliver a sales model based on transparency and trust.

Many CSA members feel that their local CSA produces fresher, better-tasting produce, and they have a say in suggesting what the farmer should produce as part of the partnership. CSA members develop a relationship of trust with their food producers, which is a value they’re unable to get at the supermarket.

What Are the Benefits of a CSA model?

 

The Top Reason: Fresh, Local Produce

The CSA model is built on the premise of delivering the freshest local produce on a regular cadence. Instead of importing frozen, off-season vegetables from the other side of the world, members get to enjoy seasonal vegetables and fruits grown within a few miles. Many members even say that the flavors of CSA-produced vegetables are more delicious than the ones at the grocery store.

Sustainable & Convenient

Supporting a CSA isn’t only tasty – it’s good for the environment.  The University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources says that the goal of sustainable agriculture is “to integrate three main objectives into their work: a healthy environment, economic profitability, and social and economic equity.” They advocate for growers to implement growing methods that:

  • Promote soil health
  • Minimize water use
  • Lower pollution emitted
  • Minimize food waste
  • Conserve energy

CSAs often disclose whether they use environmentally friendly production methods, giving their buyers transparency into what they’re supporting.

Up to Weekly Vegetable Delivery or Pick Up

Some CSAs will deliver a box to your door, while others give you the opportunity to stop by the farm to pick up your share directly from the farmer. Residents of Harvest Green can opt to have their boxes delivered to their home on a regular weekly basis. While the delivery cadence can vary from program to program, regular vegetables deliveries are a major part of any CSA program. 

Get the Family Involved – Even the Picky Eaters

Mother and child at the edible garden in Harvest Green, located in Richmond, TX

There’s something about growing your own food that gets even the pickiest eaters involved in trying new vegetables. Harvest Green is known as Houston’s first agri-hood, and is well-known for a family-friendly farm experience. Children are able to help grow produce in a farm club plot or even from home in a builder-provided backyard garden. Children tend to favor foods that they’ve helped raise! The entire family can get together to pick their favorites and try new recipes with the season’s produce.

Health Benefits of Fresh Produce

Did you know that according to the CDC, only one in ten adults gets enough fruits and vegetables in their diet? Diets rich in fresh vegetables can:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Lower the risk of digestive issues
  • Moderate your appetite
  • Lower your glycemic index
  • Keep your eyes healthy

The vitamins and minerals available in fresh vegetables are well-documented and being part of a CSA with frequent deliveries makes it easier to make healthier (and delicious!) decisions.

Seasonal Adventures

Get creative with your family and explore different recipes as the seasons change. Every month, you’ll be asking yourself, “What’s in season at the farm?” It’s the start of a new adventure with each box! Will you be getting tomatoes today? Root vegetables? Bok choy? Fresh herbs? Your entire family will get to enjoy the tastes of the season in every CSA share. You may even discover a new family favorite in a vegetable you never thought to buy on your own.

Interactive Growing Experiences

Education is, by far, an overlooked part of a CSA program. Because production farms, like the one in Harvest Green, also offer public spaces to co-farm and hold events, there are plenty of opportunities to participate in a calendar of events at the farm. Check your local CSA’s calendar to see what days the farmer’s market is open, or when educational growing classes are offered. It’s more than just a method of food production – CSA’s offer a way for you and your family to learn more about sustainable food production.

Support for Local Farming

The keyword in this program is community supported agriculture. It’s not a massive corporation, it’s locals like you who support your local farm. In exchange for a subscription or upfront yearly payment before the harvest season, local farmers are able to mitigate loss and plan for a year of farming. The subscription allows farmers to have a guaranteed market for the produce, resulting in a cycle of sustainable sales.

Less Waste from Packaging and Shipping

The World Economic Forum argues that, “Eating locally is a crucial tenet of sustainable agriculture — which refers to farming practices that understand and are conscious of the effects farming has on an ecosystem.” One of the unseen benefits of a CSA is its impact on the ecosystem and environment. Because vegetables are produced locally, it dramatically cuts back on resources to ship the produce to market. Additionally, many CSAs deliver in boxes or other sustainable materials, or allow members to use their own bags.

Want to be Part  of a local CSA?

There are a lot of great resources online to help you find a local CSA! Offerings will vary from place to place, but knowing what you’re interested in will help narrow the search.

LocalHarvest.org

This website has a rich directory of CSA programs in throughout the United States. Its useful search tool lets you search by city or zip code to see your local programs. The website also offers a multitude of helpful articles:

  • Tips for choosing a CSA
  • Local farmer’s markets
  • Links to farm blogs
  • Farm events

It is also a great resource to start the search for a local CSA that is looking for new members. Find a CSA near you on LocalHarvest »

USDA.Gov

The Agricultural Marketing Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has a great local food directory that allows you to search by zip code, products available, and payment accepted. You can even export the list to follow up and learn more about each CSA you find.

This service is managed and operated directly by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) for customers to connect with fresh local food producers. Search the AMS Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Directory »

Online Search Results

Try searching for these phrases on your favorite search engine. Many local farmers happily take to the internet to let the community know about their local harvests.

  • CSA box near me
  • CSA near me

You can vet each result separately to explore the wide variety of CSA programs in your area.

Check Out Local Blogs & Newspapers

Many local city blogs, like this example by Edible Houston, will showcase individual CSAs. Be on the lookout in newspapers, city life blogs, and parenting blogs for mentions of community supported agriculture, farm education, and farmers markets.

Ask Around – Friends and Family Might Know Best

Do you and your friends and family care about sustainable food and delicious eats? Ask around! They say that there’s nothing like word of mouth. Even a quick call-out on social media can get a friend to recommend a place they’ve even been thinking of trying.

Visit the Local Farmer’s Market

Fresh Vegetables from Harvest Green's Village Farm

If the farmer’s market has been your weekend go-to, it might be time to ask your favorite vegetable stalls if they have a CSA program! Don’t be afraid to ask vendors and market coordinators if they know or are part of a community supported agriculture program.

What About  Food Cooperatives?

Can’t find a local CSA? There is a similar model of local food production called a food cooperative, or food co-op, defined by EcoLife as the “cooperative efforts of a group of people or organizations all with the aim of producing food for all members.” In co-ops, a group of individuals band together to grow, share, and sometimes sell crops on a smaller scale. Though the goal is like a CSA, co-ops are generally non-profit organizations where the members benefit with locally produced natural foods by people they likely know.

Harvest Green's Village Farm South Fields

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) & Living in Harvest Green

Interested in living in a community that has its own CSA? Consider Harvest Green in the southwest Houston, TX area.

Harvest Green’s production farm in Richmond, TX is proud to serve residents with fresh local produce weekly via the CSA. While agrihood living is an important part of this master-planned community, Harvest Green also offers new homes by some of the top home builders in Texas. Residents also have access to a wealth of other resort-style amenities, like the Farmhouse pool, event lawn, workout center, playground, and miles of trails to explore.

Interested in learning more about living in Harvest Green? Sign up for the newsletter to get the latest updates, or contact our builders about available homes.

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