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IDALS: A Good Time to Consider Joining a CSA
Iowa Ag Connection - 02/14/2018

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is encouraging Iowans to consider joining a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program that will give them access to fresh, locally grown produce throughout the growing season.

"While we are very much in the middle of winter, Iowa farmers are planning ahead for the upcoming growing season. This makes it a great time to sign-up for a CSA as it allows farmers to ensure a good variety of produce for their subscribers," said Mike Naig, Iowa deputy secretary of agriculture. "CSAs are a great way to get fresh, nutritious, locally grown produce on a regular basis this spring, summer and fall. They're also a great way to partner with local farmers because they provide them with the means up front to pay for initial production costs."

Through CSAs, farmers sell a certain number of subscriptions, or shares, and then provide a portion of their harvest to those members, typically on a weekly basis, throughout the growing season. Many CSAs also sell half shares for smaller households or unique share programs geared to different times of the growing season or deliveries based on bi-weekly or monthly schedules.

CSA members typically receive a box or bag of fresh produce, but some farms may offer other products such as eggs, honey, baked goods, meat, herbs, or flowers. Most CSAs arrange convenient delivery sites for weekly pickup. In addition, many farmers will invite customers to visit the farm to learn more about their operation. Some also offer discounts to members who work on the farm during the growing season.

Iowa has seen significant growth in the number of CSAs, growing from 50 in 2006 to more than 80 in 2018.

Contact information including website links for CSAs throughout Iowa can be found at store.extension.iastate.edu/product/5235 as well as on the Practical Famers of Iowa website at practicalfarmers.org/member-priorities/horticulture/.

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