CSA is a system of weekly delivery or pick-up of vegetables and fruit (sometimes it includes dairy products and meat), in a vegetable box scheme. Schemes are run by businesses which offer their services to a wider geographical area and work in conjunction with a network of local growers. The boxes are typically delivered weekly or fortnightly on a subscription basis. The environmental advantages of these schemes are that they reduce packaging and avoid waste produced within the food chain. Most schemes tend to offer customers exclusively organic produce, and the arrangement cuts down on the number of miles travelled from field to doorstep in comparison to supermarkets.
A example of a vegetable box scheme run as a business in the UK is Able & Cole. The company offers a range of organic boxes, which vary according to size and the type of produce offered (vegetable, fruit, salad ingredients, gourmet ingredients etc.). Customers can select certain fruits or vegetables they have a preference for, or certain types they wish to avoid. This ensures customers don’t get any produce they want use, whilst still allowing Abel & Cole the flexibility to ensure the boxes are filled with their farmers have produced. The standard contents of the box are visible on the website at least a week in advance of the delivery.
Examples of larger and well established CSAs in the US are “Angelic Organics” (1400 families - over 5000 individuals) which grows organic food in accordance with biodynamic principles or “Farm Fresh To You” in California with over 13,000 families.