What is CSA? It stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Basically it’s like a co-op without the retail establishment. Or being able to buy wholesale as an average consumer. Or like several co-workers going in to buy a gift or something for the office.

A CSA is where groups of individuals get together to buy from a local producer, in order to save money, buy within the community, and have fresh products. The most common CSAs are for meat, fruits/veggies, or milk (particularly raw, since unpasteurized milk cannot be sold in stores).

CSAs are the wave of the future (or a throwback to the past, if you prefer). You’re buying from your neighbors, maybe even trading goods and services rather than money. You are able to know where your food is coming from, and who has handled it.

This enables individual consumers to have the buying power of an entire group (such as buying a whole beef cow). It also frees the producer from the hassles of retail, allowing them to do what they do best—farm.

Best of all, it puts the transaction between producer and consumer back where it belongs—between individuals, without interference of a middleman. It keeps the interaction on a local level. Think of it as a wholesale Farmer’s Market.

The best website I could find for the area was www.farmerspal.com. This gives a listing of producers and how to contact them. If you are a local farmer, I encourage you to get listed. I know there have to be more small, local, independent farmers out there but I don’t know how else to find you.

Agriculture doesn’t have to be the big business it has become. Producers have a right to sell directly to consumers. As a purchaser you have a right to know where your food is coming from. Ideally we have very little need for supermarkets and distributers.

The Farmer’s Market is a good place to find the opportunity for such arrangements as CSAs and co-ops. Start talking to farmers and asking questions about how you can patronize their business directly, without outside regulation.

Neighbors interacting and transacting with each other is a beautiful thing. You can make it happen every time you choose to buy local instead of through a franchise establishment. Cut out the distributors and buy from those you know, right in your own backyard.