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Sustainable Table: Picking a CSA

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MEDFORD, Ore. — The growing season has started and local produce is once again arriving at stores and farmers markets’. In fact, there are lots of ways to get local food on your table.

There are more than a dozen Community Supported Agriculture programs in Southern Oregon. They are more commonly called CSA’s and they offer a huge variety of local products and produce, so it can be a daunting task to find the one that’s right for you and your family. But, you can make it easy on yourself if you prioritize what’s most important to get your family eating local produce.

The idea behind a CSA is simple, community members buy in, sharing the risks and rewards, a.k.a. fresh food, with their local farmers.

Outreach Coordinator at The Rogue Valley Initiative for a Vital Economy (THRIVE) and CSA member, Becky Brown, describes her experiences: “It’s like Christmas. You open it up and someone else has made the decisions for me. Someone else has decided what is delicious and healthy and fabulous and I even get recipes to go along with it.”

If you’re a busy single mom like Becky Brown, you can choose a CSA that chooses your bounty for you; or if you’d like, you can customize. That’s one of the options you get with Rogue Produce.

“Most stuff you are going to know and be able to identify,” Adam Holtey from the local business explains. “They can choose from another list of available produce and they can choose what they want.”

Some groups offer just produce, others mix in eggs, dairy, meat, dry goods, preserves and breads. Becky says this is, “so that you are not just limited to what grows in the ground.”

The CSA Cooperative is entering its second season and Adam Holtey says it offers something else that makes it unique, delivery, “So we take it right to your door or where you work.”

Most CSA’s offer pick-up options at their farms or in central locations across the Rogue Valley. We have some that are more convenient for people in Josephine County or in the northern part of Jackson County. When finding the CSA that meets your needs you should also consider price. Some offer payment through the Oregon Trail card, others offer sweat equity.

This, Becky says, “For a low income family, would be an important consideration.”

Adam offers a minimum of four deliveries at $85, which can grow to a year long membership, “They don’t sign up for a whole season so they don’t need to invest that whole huge chunk of cash.”

The cost is kept low because Rogue Produce is a mini CSA, which reduces potential spoilage.

“Waste is definitely not what it’s about,” Becky says.

Many CSA’s, including Rogue Produce, offer a hold in service.

“We give people the option of skipping a delivery or however many deliveries they want, then you can skip three weeks if you go on vacation and then get three more,” Adam explains.

Rogue Produce is dropping off about 50 baskets for its CSA this week but Adam says he’d like to see that grow to a couple hundred meaning there is room for people who are interested in CSA’s.

You can learn more about CSA’s in Southern Oregon by clicking here.