Date of this Version
This NebGuide explains what community supported agriculture is, how it works and what producers will need to do to participate.
Most Nebraskans have not heard of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) but the concept is about three decades old in Japan and Europe and about 10-15 years old on the east coast of the United States.
In Japan, because of continued loss of farmland to urbanization and the migration of farmers to the city, a group of women approached local farm families with the idea of direct marketing produce from area farms to urban residents. This created an alternative distribution system independent of the conventional market. The farmers agreed to provide produce if multiple families made a commitment to support the farm. Formal partnerships called teikei began in the form of cooperative buying clubs and now involve millions of people. These buying cooperatives have branched out to start other companies, recycling shops and child care services.
In the early 1970s, farmers and community members in several European countries, who were concerned about the industrialization of their food system, started the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model as we know it. Farmers were losing their market share and their ability to produce diversified crops. CSA proved to support family farms, provide healthy, fresh food and promote a sense of community land stewardship.
Today, farmers and consumers in the United States face similar challenges and CSAs offer similar opportunities. In 1986, two farms in the eastern United States began CSAs based on the European model. More than 1,500 CSA farms exist today across the United States.