Community Supported Agriculture is thriving in the Central Valley
Ryan Galt, UC Davis
Libby O'Sullivan, UC Davis
Jessica Beckett, UC Davis
Colleen C. Hiner, UC Davis
California Agriculture 66(1):8-14. DOI: 10.3733/ca.v066n01p8.
Community Supported Agriculture operations (CSAs) have grown rapidly in recent years. The original model, in which members support a farming operation by paying for produce in advance and receive a share of the farm's produce in return, has been adapted, with much innovation. Since little research existed on CSAs in the Central Valley, we surveyed and carried out in-depth interviews with 54 CSA farmers and two CSA organizers in the Central Valley and surrounding foothills. Here we focus on four aspects of these CSA operations: type, economic viability, farmer characteristics and farm attributes. We found two main CSA models, box and membership/share. Fifty-four percent of the CSAs reported being profitable, and the average gross sales per acre were $9,084. CSA farmers are diverse in political orientation, yet are generally younger, better educated and more likely to be women than the general farming population. CSA farms are relatively small, with a median size of 20 acres; have a median membership of 60 (585 average); use agroecological methods; cultivate agrobiodiversity; and utilize growing practices that generally meet or exceed National Organic Program standards.
R.E. Galt is Assistant Professor, Department of Human and Community Development, UC Davis; L. O'Sullivan is Ph.D. Student, Geography Graduate Group, UC Davis; J. Beckett is M. Sc., Community Development, UC Davis; C.C. Hiner is Ph.D. Candidate, Geography Graduate Group, UC Davis.
Essential funding was provided by a UC Davis Hellman Fellowship, a grant from the Packard Foundation through the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis, and the UC Davis Agricultural Experiment Station. This work is part of Hatch Project CA-D∗-HCD-7743-H.