Farming in the United States is very different today compared to what my grandparents experienced. Industrial farming and refrigeration have fundamentally changed what we eat, how we eat, and, for many, our relationship with food. Small local farms are not what they used to be and in order to survive have developed several techniques to get their product out to desiring customers. One way is through Community Supported Agriculture or CSAs. A local farm, or co-op of local farms, asks community members to pay ahead for their harvest and in return provide a weekly share of the harvest. It helps farms stay financially afloat and ensures the harvest goes to people who want it and will eat it.
I truly love being part of a local CSA. Not only do I feel like I am contributing to my community in a meaningful way, but I am getting the best quality local and seasonal vegetables and fruits. They taste fantastic and were picked only a day or two before I get to eat them. Yum! Most CSAs practice organic farming, seed saving, grow heirloom varieties, and grow produce indigenous to the area, in addition to popular produce.
Different CSAs do different things. The photo above is me helping out on the small farm that was my CSA last summer. The farmers felt their customers should understand what farming was like and asked that everyone contribute at least 10 hours to the farm over the summer. Some CSAs will actually trade farm work for produce.
You can learn more and find a local CSA here. I highly recommend joining one.