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Paula’s Favourite Sustainability Initiative: Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

Every month, one of PRé’s people talks about his or her personal favourite sustainable initiative. This can be a product or a shop, a local initiative or a new website. This month, Paula Bernstein will tell you a little about Community Supported Agriculture.

Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative

I’ve always enjoyed shopping at local farmers markets. I grew up in upstate New York, where shopping at farmers markets was not only convenient but always meant fresher, local, and more sustainable produce. When I moved to Washington DC, I quickly found the local farmers markets and also discovered another similar and interesting initiative called Community Supported Agriculture. 

 

Why Eat Local?

There are many benefits of buying local produce, and it is often promoted as being more sustainable. Here are some examples of why buying from your local farmer can be more sustainable than buying from the grocery store:

  • Support local farmer families and communities.
  • Minimise use of fossil fuels used to transport food. On average, food within the US is shipped 1500 miles before being sold.
  • Buy from farmers who use sustainable farming practices such as Integrated Pest Management (IPM).
  • Support the humane treatment of animals.

 

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

If you like eating local produce and shopping at farmers markets, you might want to look into becoming a member of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programme. Essentially, CSAs allow individuals to become shareholders of a local farm and receive a weekly share of the harvest. These farms produce organic and seasonal produce, which shareholders can pick up on a regular basis (often weekly). This way, those who live in cities have access to the fresh and local produce produced outside of the city that they live in.

 

CSA members pay upfront at the beginning of the year (or season) and in return receive weekly portions (or shares). The produce delivered is always whatever is in season. Members do not have control of what comes in their portion - this is a fun way to learn which fruits and vegetables actually grow in your region and to learn to cook with new kinds of food. The CSA often provides a few recipes for you to learn how to use more unique ingredients (usually vegetables) in particular.

 

An example of a CSA in the Washington DC area is the Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative. Shares are delivered and available for pick up conveniently just a few blocks from my apartment. While some CSAs give you an assortment of products, this one allows you to choose what type of share you want as well as the size. For example you can buy a share of cheese, meat, vegetables, or herbs, etc.

 

What Can You Do?

A simple Google search for farmers markets and CSAs can point you in the direction. The website LocalHarvest can direct those in US to local foods. All CSAs are different, so I encourage you to check out what the options are near you!

Contact the author

Paula Bernstein worked for PRé from 2013 to February 2018. Her areas of expertise included environmental product performance, LCA databases, and supply chain sustainability measurement. Paula collaborated structurally in LCA and sustainability metrics implementation projects for many industries, such as apparel, food, and building & construction. She also worked closely with the PRé software team to implement databases in PRé’s software package SimaPro.

Contact Paula Bernstein
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