You may have heard the acronym “CSA” thrown around lately, or seen bags full of vegetables ready for pickup at the farmers market and wondered what it was all about. CSA stands for Community-Supported Agriculture, and is another way to connect farmers and consumers. The farmers join a collective where they agree to bring a certain amount of certain foods to the distribution point, and the CSA divides the produce equally among the subscribers. In Memphis, there are two CSA groups – the Bring It Food Hub and Roots Memphis.
So how do you join a CSA? All you have to do is go online, sign up, and pre-pay for the number of shares (bags) you’d like to order. Then each week, go to the farmers market and pick up your bag of weekly produce. For those that typically spend a lot on fresh produce at the grocery store, or who prefer knowing that their produce is locally and organically grown, a CSA subscription can be a real lifesaver. Each bag contains $20 of fresh fruits and vegetables, and you can even get deluxe versions that include eggs, bread, honey, coffee, fresh cut flowers, and more.
If that sounds a little out of your budget, the Bring It Food Hub also has CSA subscriptions for those with limited incomes who receive SNAP benefits. Each SNAP box contains $10 of fresh produce and can be paid for on a week-to-week basis. SNAP box participants can even still use the Fresh Savings incentive, which is a program of AARP that doubles your SNAP dollars at the farmers market. To join a SNAP box CSA, simply fill out a short application, pay onsite for the next week’s box and receive $10 in Fresh Savings tokens that you can spend immediately on fresh fruits and vegetables at the farmers market.
There are other advantages to joining a CSA, apart from the pre-packed convenience. Both the Bring It Food Hub and Roots Memphis have options for you to “pay it forward” to a family in need by buying a gift subscription. And what about the bags that don’t get picked up at the market? Don’t worry – they get donated to charities that feed the homeless. Roots Memphis also has a unique farmer training program to assist new startup farms, helping to ensure their early success.
Both CSAs have a pickup point at the Overton Park and Cooper-Young Farmers Markets, so while you’re picking up your weekly bag, you can also pick up locally raised meat, eggs and dairy, fresh baked breads and pastries, jams, jellies and honey, a different assortment of fruits and vegetables, locally roasted coffee, and unique gift items such as handmade soap and jewelry.
Come see what’s “growin’ on” at the Farmers Market!