What is a CSA and How Can it Save You Money?

We love growing our own food, but due to limited space, we can’t grow everything we want.

That may be the case for a lot of people, too, so the next best thing is trying a CSA. Have you ever heard of a CSA?

CSA stands for “community supported agriculture” and whether you know it or not, they can save you a considerable amount of money on your grocery bill by cutting your costs on fresh fruits and vegetables.

The basics of how a CSA works is this:

A local farmer offers a specific number of “shares” to the CSA members or to new families wanting to become a CSA. Each member (or anyone who wants to be a member that season) then pays their buy in fees.

These fees are usually around $450 per season but can be as high as $600. Usually you will be given the option to purchase a full share or a half share.

Full shares get more foods with their deliveries than half shares do so make sure that you choose the one that is right for your family.

The farmer then takes that money and invests it into the farm by using it to purchase seed, make needed repairs and gets the crops started.

Once the crop starts to come in, each CSA member receives their share either weekly or bi-weekly. This continues over the entire growing season and since you’ve already paid your buy in fees, you don’t have to pay again.

So how does this save you money? Easy!

Prices for fresh fruit and produce fluctuate in the grocery stores. One week you might be able to find fresh strawberries for $0.99/lb, but the next? They’ve jumped to $3.99/lb.

If you skipped buying them the week before, you’ll now pay 4 times their sale price just to have them. Now apply that to all of the fruits and veggies that your family buys.

Those differences in price can add up to a pretty penny that is being taken out of your grocery budget!

Those pennies can be especially important to pay attention to if your grocery budget is already tight. With a CSA in place though, you don’t have that issue.

Once you’ve paid your buy in fees for the whole season, you’re done! There’s no more money needed so your grocery bill doesn’t get hit simply because something isn’t on sale.

There’s also the fact that even though a CSA might require a higher initial payment, you will still save money across the months or weeks that your membership is active.

Yes, a $450 buy in might seem steep at first, but when you take into account that the $450 that you spend might cover 16 weeks of weekly deliveries, you’re spending just $28.15 per week on fresh fruit and vegetables that your family needs.

Now that? That is a price I’m sure we can all get behind!

To find a CSA in your area, you’ll want to check sites like Local Harvest.

They can direct you toward active CSA’s in your area. Once you’ve picked one, contact them to see if they’re still accepting members or if not, when they will open up membership next.

Once you get started with your CSA, you’ll love it! You’ll enjoy the savings, the fresh fruits and the ease that having a CSA can bring you!

Do you think you’d join a CSA? I’d love to hear why or why not! Be sure to pin this to your favorite board for later!

1 thought on “What is a CSA and How Can it Save You Money?”

  1. I absolutely LOVE our CSA. We don’t get deliveries, though, but head out to the farm each week to pick up what we want. A lot of CSAs work this way, so you can decide what you really want one week is a boatload of cucumbers and carrots and skip the kohlrabi (though I know a lot of people love kohlrabi :). I greatly prefer this method, so I can pick out what I want to cook that week rather than facing a pile of veggies and then trying to figure out the menu, though that could also be fun

    Our farm also makes the cost of their food far lower by growing a bunch of crops as u-pick. Things like berries, herbs and cherry tomatoes are expensive at the store largely because of the labor involved. Our farmers just plant the seeds and plants, give them some water, and leave the rest to us! The kids and I love hunting for our own snap peas, strawberries, groundcherries and the like, plus I can gather up unlimited amounts of basil, cilantro and other herbs to make into pestos and dry for winter. Our half-share costs about $15/week and give us more food than we need. Some weeks I have enough strawberries and herbs alone (in addition to the usual share veggies) to add up to far more than $15.

    Highly recommend trying one! Thanks for the post, Heather!

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