A directory is now available for those seeking out local, fresh food beyond the grocery store. The publication, Iowa CSA Farms: 2016 Statewide List of CSA Farms and Organizers Serving Iowa, has just been updated to include the latest contact information from farms across the state who offer Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs.
CSAs are partnerships between farmers and community members who want to buy high quality, fresh, local produce on a regular basis. CSA farmers produce fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, fiber, or related products, for local community members directly. They become shareholders by paying the farmer in advance for a CSA “share,” and receive regular deliveries of products from the farmer. This way, the farmer has up-front capital to start the season, and customers share the risks—and benefits—of production with the farmer.
Membership in a CSA ranges in cost depending on the season length, the variety and quantity that a share provides. A CSA membership would be highly beneficial for consumers who looking for one or more of the following:
• The freshest, sustainably grown food delivered at a convenient location on a regular basis
• Support for the local economy and local farmers
• Exciting new varieties of vegetables available for sampling
• New recipes to try
• Healthy food for a fair price.
The newly updated directory lists 79 CSAs who are offering fresh produce and other products specifically for local consumers. The directory was compiled by Savanna Lyons and Alice Topaloff, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Local Foods team members, and Craig Chase, who coordinates the Local Foods team as well as the Marketing and Foods Systems initiative at the Leopold Center.
“CSAs give customers a real connection to the place and people that produce their food,” Lyons says. “Plus, receiving payment for products up front can be a big help to farmers. Joining a CSA is a great way to show your support for a small, sustainable farmer in your community. That’s why it’s called ‘community supported’ agriculture.”
Lyons said that farmers were encouraged to list more information about their production practices, since many grow low-spray or chemical-free produce, or are have certain certifications. The directory includes individual farm contact information, including links to websites and social media, their available products and distribution range. The listings are organized by Extension region and county. The directory also includes CSAs from neighboring states that offer drop-off sites in Iowa.
“This year’s directory reflects, once again, the diversity of CSAs that Iowa farms offer: spring, summer and fall shares; vegetables, fruit, meat, eggs, or a combination of these,” says Lyons.
The 2016 Iowa CSA Farms publication can be found at the ISU Extension Online Store and through the Leopold Center. The directory is updated at least once each year. Visit Iowa CSA Farm Directory Updates to provide additions and modifications to the directory.
The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture was established in 1987 through the Iowa Groundwater Protection Act. It is a research and education center at Iowa State University created to identify and reduce negative farming impacts and to develop new ways to farm profitably while conserving natural resources. The Center’s competitive grants program awards funds to researchers and investigators across Iowa, extending more than 500 competitive grants since 1988. For more information about the Leopold Center, visit the website: www.leopold.iastate.edu.