Community Supported Agriculture
Community Supported Agriculture consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community's farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production. Typically, members or "share-holders" of the farm or garden pledge in advance to cover the anticipated costs of the farm operation and farmer's salary. In return, they receive shares in the farm's bounty throughout the growing season, as well as satisfaction gained from reconnecting to the land and participating directly in food production. Members also share in the risks of farming, including poor harvests due to unfavorable weather or pests. By direct sales to community members, who have provided the farmer with working capital in advance, growers receive better prices for their crops, gain some financial security, and are relieved of much of the burden of marketing.
Find a CSA Farm
Search National farm databases by city, state, or ZIP
Wilson College, Robyn Van En Center, CSA Farm Database
The Eat Well Guide
Search State and regional farm directories
Local Food Directories. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service. Includes directories of farmers markets, on-farm markets, CSAs, and food hubs.
Local Food Directories. ATTRA - The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service.
What is Community Supported Agriculture
Defining Community Supported Agriculture
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA): An Annotated Bibliography and Resource Guide. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Alternative Farming Systems Information Center (AFSIC). 1993.
Community Supported Agriculture: An Introduction. Biodynamic Association:
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Kathleen M. Kelley, Lynn F. Kime and Jayson K. Harper. Penn State Extension. 2013.
Community Supported Agriculture. From: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Marketing through Community Supported Agriculture
A Farmer’s Guide to Marketing through Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) Megan L. Bruch and Matthew D. Ernst. University of Tennessee. Institute of Agriculture. December 2010.
Understanding Community Supported Agriculture. Mary Holz-Clause. Iowa State University. Reviewed August 2009.
What is Community Supported Agriculture? M.E. Swisher, Rose Koenig, Jennifer Gove and James Sterns. University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agriculture, Extension Service. Revised June 2006. Reviewed July 2012.
Community Supported Agriculture. University of California Small Farm Program. November/December 1993. An excerpt from Eric Gibson's Sell What You Sow! The Grower's Guide to Successful Produce Marketing. (Auburn, CA: New World Publishing, 1994)
"The History of Community Supported Agriculture, Part I: Community Farms in the 21st Century: Poised for Another Wave of Growth?" (2004) NewFarm.
"The History of Community Supported Agriculture, Part II: CSA‘s World of Possibilities." (2004) NewFarm.
"Eating for Your Community: A Report from the Founder of Community Supported Agriculture," by Robyn Van En. (1995) In Context, Fall 1995, p, 29.
"History of Community Supported Agriculture," Unit 4.1 In Teaching Direct Marketing and Small Farm Viability: Resources for Instructors. (2005) Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems, University of California, Santa Cruz.
Lecture Outline and Appendix: The Ten Founding Principles of the Teikei System in Japan.
It's Not Just About Vegetables. 1986. A video documentary of Indian Line Farm, one of the first Community Supported Agriculture projects in North America. Produced by Mickey Friedman and John MacGruer. Great Barrington, MA: Downtown Productions, 2006
Surveys and Statistics
- Data collected in 2012 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicates that 12,617 farms in the United States reported marketing products through a community supported agriculture (CSA) arrangement, a .5 percent increase over the 12,549 farms marketing through CSAs in 2007. Information by state also is available.
Table 43. Selected Practices: 2012. In 2012 Census of Agriculture - State Data. p. 558. (2014) U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service.
See the column titled, "Marketed products through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) (farms)" to find the number of farms that answered yes to the question, "At any time during 2012, did this operation market products through a community supported agriculture (CSA) arrangement?"
See also: 2012 Agricultural Census Home page
Table 44. Selected Practices: 2007. In 2007 Census of Agriculture - State Data. p. 606. (2009) U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service.
See the column titled, "Marketed products through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) (farms)" to find the number of farms that answered yes to the question, "At any time during 2007, did this operation market products through a community supported agriculture (CSA) arrangement?"
See also: 2007 Agricultural Census Home page
2009 Survey of Community Supported Agriculture Producers. (July 2009) Cooperative Extension Service, College of Agriculture, University of Kentucky. Analysis of survey findings on the business and marketing practices of 205 CSA farms in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and West Virginia.
CSA 2001: An Evolving Platform for Ecological and Economical Agricultural Marketing and Production. (2005) University of Massachusetts. Analysis and update of previous surveys, with emphasis on the U.S. Northeast.
CSA Across the Nation: Findings from the 1999 CSA Survey. (2003) Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS), College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Provides the first comprehensive portrait of the CSA movement in the US. Findings from a 1999 national "census" survey show commonalities and diversity among CSA farms.
Community Supported Agriculture Entering the 21st Century:
Results from the 2001 National Survey. (undated) D. Less, A. Bevis, G.W. Stevenson, J. Hendrickson, and K. Ruhf. Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS), College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Presents the results of a 2001 survey of 300 Community Supported Agriculture farms in 43 U.S. states. Continues the 1999 survey as described in the report CSA Across the Nation: Findings from the 1999 CSA Survey, above.
Community Supported Agriculture in the Mid-Atlantic Region: Results of a Shareholder Survey and Farmer Interviews. (2004) L. Oberholtzer. Future Harvest-CASA. Research from the Small Farm Success Project.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in the Midwest United States: A Regional Characterization. (2005) Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture.
Community Supported Agriculture on the Central Coast: The CSA Member Experience. (2003) Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS), University of California.
Marketing Your Organic Products. In Final Results of the 4th National Organic Farmers Survey: Sustaining Organic Farms in a Changing Organic Marketplace. p. 48-51. (2004) Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF). Survey conducted in 2002.
Unraveling the CSA Number Conundrum. McFadden, Steven. The Call of the Land. Blog. January 9, 2012.
Where to Find More Information
Marketing, Business & Risk Management publications from ATTRA - The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service.
Cooperative Extension Publications
Missouri Alternatives Center (University of Missouri Extension) database of full-text publications from many states.
[select "C", then "Community Supported Agriculture" for links to 14 documents]
Organizations and Web Sites Related to Community Supported Agriculture, updated January 2006.
Search AGRICOLA, the National Agricultural Library (NAL) Catalog.
AGRICOLA (AGRICultural Online Access) is a bibliographic database of citations to the agricultural literature created by the National Agricultural Library (NAL) and its cooperators. The records describe publications and resources encompassing all aspects of agriculture and allied disciplines.
[Learn more about AGRICOLA.]
- Search strategy: ("community supported agriculture") or ("community supported farm???") or ("CSA farm???") or ("subscription farm???") or ("box scheme?") or ("teikei")
- Subject browse:
Review Community Supported Agriculture - Automated Database Searches to search additional resources.
Additional Information for Farmers
CSA Resources for Farmers. (updated 2008) U.S. Department of Agriculture, AFSIC. List of selected books, articles, videos and web links focusing on the business of CSA farming.
Publications from the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program.
Publications include Marketing Strategies for Farmers and Ranchers; and
Building a Sustainable Business: A Guide to Developing a Business Plan for Farms and Rural Businesses.
Guide to Financing the Community Supported Farm. Ways for Farms to Acquire Capital Within Communities. University of Vermont Center for Sustainable Agriculture, University of Vermont Extension. 2012. 62 p. Describes alternative financial arrangements and basic legal issues to consider for community supported farm development.
CSA project reports from the SARE database of funded projects.
1. Select "Advanced Keyword" Search Option, check "CSA" in the Economic/Marketing category, then select Search. Or
2. Select "Advanced Keyword" Search Option, select Phrase Search, enter the search string Community Supported Agriculture, then select Search.
Local Harvest: A Multifarm CSA Handbook. (Revised 2010)
"Community Supported Agriculture," Unit 4.0 In Teaching Direct Marketing and Small Farm Viability: Resources for Instructors. (2005) Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems, University of California, Santa Cruz.
Farmers Markets and Direct-to-Consumer Marketing.
Eating Seasonally and Regionally
Eating Local: A Matter of Integrity, by John Ikerd. (2005) University of Missouri.
Dietary Guidance. USDA, Food and Nutrition Information Center, National Agricultural Library.
Community Food Systems: Farm-to-School, Food Circles, and Farmers’ Markets
Community Food Systems. U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Library, Food and Nutrition Information Center. Links to dozens of publications, programs and Web sites.
Community Food Systems and Civic Agriculture. U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Library, Alternative Farming Systems Information Center.
Local and Regional Food Systems. (2015) ATTRA. National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service.
Food Security Learning Center. World Hunger Year (WHY)
Food Circles Networking Project. Connecting Farmers, Consumers, and Communities. University of Missouri.
Local Food Systems: Concepts, Impacts, and Issues. (May 2010) S. Martinez, M. hand, M. DaPra, S. Pollack, K. Ralston, et. al. USDA. Economic Research Service. "'This overview of local food systems explores alternative definitions of local food, estimates market size and reach, describes the characteristics of local consumers and producers, and examines early indications of the economic and health impacts of local food systems."
Farmer's Markets. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service. Includes a state-by-state directory.
The Sustainable/Organic Agriculture Connection
Information from USDA
The U.S. Department of Agriculture supports three major programs that offer sustainable agriculture information and assistance. Whether you are a farmer, an educator or a researcher seeking more information about sustainable agriculture in general, about a specific crop, or help with a specific problem, these programs can help. Contact information for each program and a description of each program's area of specialization are provided below.
Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program
Provides grant opportunities; maintains diverse portfolio of research projects; synthesizes research results and on-farm experiences to develop books, introductory bulletins and educator guides.
- See: What is Sustainable Agriculture?
ATTRA - The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, a program of the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT)
National information service answers questions about specific farming practices and innovative marketing approaches, including organic production.
- See: What is Sustainable Agriculture?
Alternative Farming Systems Information Center (AFSIC)
Collects, organizes and distributes information on alternative agriculture and provides high-level searching and reference services from the National Agricultural Library's vast collection and world-wide databases.
- See: Sustainable Agriculture: Definitions and Terms. (1999)
Additional AFSIC resources on Community Supported Agriculture include: