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Local Farmers Call on Their Community to Save the Family Farm

Small-scale vegetable producers are struggling to make ends meet as they compete with large corporate farms, diminished sales at local farmers markets and box delivery programs. Subscribing to a season-long, community-supported agriculture (CSA) program can help keep local farmers in business and assure that local food remains available.

The concept behind CSA farms is that the farmer offers a certain number of CSA boxes to the public. Consumers purchase a seasonal subscription, and in return receive a container of seasonal local food weekly or biweekly throughout the farming season. Most often these boxes include access to newsletters with helpful recipes and farm updates. Members also connect with their farmer and their food at farm events.

Over the last 10 years, local and organic food has become popular and has seen a big increase in demand, notes April Yuds of LotFotL Community Farm, in Elkhorn. Yet many small producers depend on their CSA programs to generate much-needed yearly income to sustain their farm operations. Many farms have changed the classic CSA model to better fit the needs of today’s families through vacation holds, customizable boxes and even home delivery. The Full Diet CSA model involves members taking as much or as little as they need of whatever the farm has available for the week. Wisconsin CSA farmer Tim Huth of LotFotL introduced this model to his members this season. “If we can feed 100 families with this style of CSA, we can sustain ourselves,” Huth says.

For more information about community-supported agriculture (CSA) and where to find local farmers, visit the CSA page on the Urban Ecology Center’s website UrbanEcologyCenter.org/what-we-do/csa-farmers.html or FarmFreshAtlas.org.

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