CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. It’s a way to experience the way people used to eat, before mass transportation, with the added benefit that we grow a large variety of different vegetables to keep things interesting.
The concept of CSA began in the 1980s when the earlier Federal government push for farms to “get big or get out” forced many family farms to fail. In this “race to the bottom” local family farms found it increasingly difficult to repay loans which, in turn, made it increasingly difficult for them to get loans. As bank financing became more difficult, farmers came up with the concept of CSA, where members of the community would buy a “share” of the farm’s produce in the spring in exchange for delivery of the produce later in the growing season. The purchase of shares provided start-up or “seed” money when the farms needed it most. Farms use this early revenue from the sale of CSA shares for seed, fertilizer, potting mix, labor, equipment maintenance, and anything else necessary to get the crops in the ground and sustain the farm until the crops can be harvested and sold.
Follow this link to the USDA’s “Alternative Farming” site for their interpretation of what a CSA is. As you can see, the USDA says that the CSA members share in the rewards and the risks of farming. While that is true, we feel that it is important to note that for over 20 years Laughing Stock Farm has never failed to provide the value of the share to our members. Some years are more challenging than others, but by the end of the year we have always been able to provide the full share value and variety to our customers. Everything always seems to work out.
This concept is how our farm runs from year to year. Your support in purchasing a CSA share allows us to farm without needing to search out prohibitively expensive (if you can get it) seasonal farm loans. Unlike the non-profit land trust farms, we can’t ask for or accept tax deductible donations, we’re not eligible for the government and foundation grants that support non-profit farms, and we don’t have a huge mailing list of non-profit members to call on for unlimited financial support.
Your purchase of a CSA share in Laughing Stock Farm is, quite literally, EVERYTHING to us. Without your support, a small family owned farm like ours couldn’t do what we do.
Thank you… and please pass the word!