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Community-Supported Agriculture

Shel Horowitz's Monthly Frugal Fun Tip -- Vol. 5, #5 (September, 2001)

From May through October, we go every week to a local organic farm, where typically we pick up several grocery bags of fresh vegetables. Some are waiting in huge baskets for us to select from a multitude of choices; others are out in the fields where we can pick our own.

This harvest supplies most of the veggies for two families of four, for nearly half the year. Each family pays $200 for the whole season's worth of goodies, and often it's a challenge to use it all up by the end of the week.

Crops include fresh peas, several kinds of greens, squashes, melons, corn, tomatoes, beans, and lots more--even fresh garlic and herbs. I'd estimate the street value of our shared $400 investment at about $2000.

We are participating in an important trend: the cooperative farm, known formally as Community-Supported Agriculture. These are "sprouting" all over the country because they're a win-win.

Farmers love them because they get their money up front, at the time when their expenses are highest and they'd normally have to get a loan. And consumers love them because they're a reliable, affordable source of high quality fresh produce--and often, a community builder too, as shareholders see their friends, enjoy potlucks together, and rub elbows in the you-pick fields.

If you live in the US, you can find a CSA near you by visiting http://www.nalusda.gov/afsic/csa/csastate.htm

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