What is a CSA?

ZJ Farm Hoop House

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) links you with your food, the farmers who grow and produce your food and the land on which it is grown. Originating in Japan, CSAs are called teikei: food with the farmer’s face on it.

You become a member by paying in advance for a season’s worth of vegetables grown on our small family farms and we provide you with a regular supply of safe, high quality, fresh food. Receiving payments in advance enables us to finance our farm’s production without a loan. As partners in this endeavor you share in the risk and the bounty with the farmers meaning sometimes you’ll receive more or less than you expected of certain items in your box, depending on growing conditions

In the spirit of social sustainability and community we view our CSA members as more than consumers: Local Harvest CSA members are participants in a socially and environmentally responsible community. We believe that Local Harvest CSA membership should represent our community’s diversity, and as such, participation should not be limited by financial constraints. (See FAQs for payment options)

Through Local Harvest CSA, you can purchase vegetables, bread, eggs, and other products such as lamb and turkeys.

CSA member , Don Anderson shares his perspective on CSA based on the experience that he and his wife have accumulated over the past 20-some years participating in three different CSA's -- from Pittsburgh, to Minneapolis/St. Paul, and then to Iowa City:


“First, let's think about what the situation would traditionally have been for a farm like our own ZJ farm, starting from the crazy notion that the farm desired to produce a variety of vegetables for a local market. At the beginning of the planting season, the farm (i.e.,Susan) would have put all kinds of its own resources (sweat and $$) into preparing, planting, and tending the fields. Were nature to smile on this endeavor, all would eventually be well, as crops would be brought to market to sell at a great price. Unfortunately, this viewpoint neglects to account for the substantial amount of stress associated with said farmer watching and reacting to what the (fickle) summer season would bring. Especially given that all the $$ plowed into the field were at risk the entire time. One person or family taking on all the risk, with all the consumers waiting to purchase only at the last when crops have come in. When things go awry, much is lost by but a few among us.

The CSA model sees things differently. It still begins with the notion that locally grown produce is the preferred avenue for feeding ourselves. In the CSA model, we all contribute $$ up-front, with the farm being the holder of our investment. (Usually, the farmer is still the one delivering the sweat equity, on all our behalf.) We all take upon ourselves the financial and emotional risk accompanying the myriad ways in which things can go wrong. More often than not, we all share in the bounty that the earth delivers when farmed knowledgeably and respectfully. On (rare) occasion, things do not turn out as well as we hope. But at those times, we all share in the loss, and the loss is not so great for any one of us.”