Do CSAs need a charter?

Friday marks National CSA Signup Day, an annual nudge for those of us who have been meaning to sign up for another year of Community Supported Agriculture. And this year, organizers are encouraging participants to adopt a brand new CSA Charter.

Why would a CSA need a charter? “In the past couple of years, imitators of various kinds have been crowding farms out of this market,” organizer Elizabeth Henderson tells us in an email. We reported on that crowding phenomenon back in August—here’s our take on the difference between a CSA and a food hub.

“It seemed like the moment to reaffirm the full meaning of Community Supported Agriculture.”

For that reason, it seems like a good time to establish a couple of ground rules. The charter, available in full here, clarifies some of the central priorities for CSAs and the communities they serve. The tenets outlined include full or partial prepayment for the season (hence the February signup day), community input in the choice of vegetables being grown for the year, and general cooperation between farmers and community members.

“Farms and CSA networks all over the country have approved the wording,” Henderson says. “It seemed like the moment to reaffirm the full meaning of Community Supported Agriculture through this charter.”


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H. Claire Brown is a senior staff writer for The Counter. Her work has also appeared in The Atlantic, The Guardian, and The Intercept and has won awards from the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, the New York Press Club, the Newswomen's Club of New York, and others. A North Carolina native, she now lives in Brooklyn.