Subscription programs deliver farm-fresh, Virginia grown products
It may be winter, but many Virginia farms are planning for the warmer, bountiful months ahead and offering Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscriptions for the upcoming season. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) encourages Virginians to consider enrolling or re-enrolling in a CSA program to support local agriculture and obtain fresh, seasonal food and farm products.
CSA members pay an upfront subscription fee as a share of a farm’s harvest, and then receive a portion of the crops as they’re harvested. For convenience, many CSAs deliver to central locations for pick up on a certain day of the week. Some have special rates if the subscriber enrolls early in the season or helps with the harvest on the farm. Products almost always include fresh vegetables and fruits, but they can also include meat, eggs, herbs, honey, cheese, butter, cut flowers and more.
VDACS maintains a list of more than 100 CSAs on VirginiaGrown.com. The directory includes contact information and website links to research which CSA program’s arrangement, location, pricing and variety of products will be the best fit.
In addition to traditional CSA programs through a local farm, some Virginians may consider subscribing to an online CSA. These services obtain seasonal products from a variety of Virginia farms and deliver the weekly selection to their customers’ homes or designated pick-up location.
Like any other business transaction, it is important for consumers to make sure they clearly understand the terms and conditions that a CSA share offers. Consumers should discuss their expectations with the farm offering the CSA and understand the risks assumed in the event of drought or other events that can affect agricultural output. General CSA information and tips are available at localharvest.org/csa/.