Prairieland Community Supported Agriculture

0 Flares 0 Flares ×

Community Supported Agriculture is a system in which consumers receive food directly from the farmers who produce it.
But unlike a farmers market system, supporters of community agriculture actually share in part of the farmers’ risk. That is, they pay in advance for a portion of the farmers’ total crop.
Crops that do well will be abundant in the share, crops that do less well will be less abundant. For their part, the farmers have a stable income that doesn’t depend on sunny weather on farmers market days.
Why would anyone support CSA farmers when they could just as easily go to the supermarket or pick what they wanted from a farmers market stand?
CSA members receive their produce at prices that are slightly cheaper than the farmers market.
CSA members’ food is typically produced via sustainable organic methods. Unlike typical monocrop production systems, CSA members’ fruits and vegetables are produced as part of a large organic cropping system that relies on crop rotations and other natural methods to break weed and pest cycles.While CSA members might like mizuna lettuce in their shares each week, they accept that a variety of greens and crops are necessary to help their farmer maintain an organic system. They know that the maintenance of this system is essential to their having favorites like mizuna lettuce for years to come.
Unlike conventional agricultural production, an organic CSA production system isn’t based upon the degradation of natural resources. CSA members’ food is produced without harming our water supplies with pesticides and silt, and without contributing to pollutants that result from transporting food cross-country. CSA supporters have a say not only in how their food is produced with regard to the environment, but with regard to society.
They can mandate that farmworkers earn fair wages and have good working conditions. Too much organic produce in our country is produced by farmworkers who earn substandard wages. Paying nonliving wages to workers ultimately hurts the surrounding community. For example, workers who cannot afford preventative health care often are treated in emergency rooms which cannot turn patients away for inability to pay. This results in higher health care costs for everyone.
Because their food is produced nearby, CSA members’ food also may be more nutritious as it does not have to be picked “green” for long-distance shipping.
Finally, producing food locally results in a greater percentage of dollars remaining in the local economy.What’s more, buying food directly from the farmers who produce it ultimately reduces the need for federal farm subsidy programs which have encouraged resource degradation and concentrated land ownership.
Prairieland CSA is one of a handful of community supported agriculture programs in the state of Illinois, the number of which is now stabilized after a serious decline in the late 1990s.
Unlike most CSAs, PCSA was started by community members who wanted to strengthen ties between themselves and local farmers. Since 1994, PCSA has operated as a non-profit organization matching consumers with local organic farmers.
Before the growing season begins, PCSA shareholders sign agreements with local farmers who agree to grow crops and bring them to neighborhood locations each week during the growing season. Shareholders receive an average of dollar amount of produce each week. However, the volume of their produce resembles a bell curve. Shareholders also receive information on how to prepare and store their produce, as well as information about the farms and membership activities such as farm tours, potlucks, volunteer workdays, and community education and outreach efforts.
There are still shares left for the 2003 season. The cost of a full share is $325. Full-season shares are 23 weeks from June 18th through November 19th. Half-season shares are 12 weeks from September 3rd through November 19th and the cost is $180.
To contact PCSA by postal mail, write to Prairieland CSA, P.O. Box 1404; Champaign, IL 61824-1404. You also can reach them by email at or by phone at 217-239-2686. Their website is /pcsa. Information for this article came from their website.

This entry was posted in Environment. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.