Chances are that you've been to a local farmer's market at least once in your life. If you are anything like me, you spend hours every weekend hanging out at your local farmer's market - choosing the best produce and chatting with the farmers and others there.

While I'll never give up my time at the farmer's market, I recently learned about community supported agriculture, which is just as cool or even better.

Community Supported Agriculture

What is Community Supported Agriculture?

Just like the name implies, community supported agriculture is a way for the community to support local agriculture. It works slightly differently in different areas, but the principal is the same everywhere.

Basically, you buy shares in a farm or numerous farms at the beginning of the growing season. Those who want to buy shares can do so at a price point that meets their budget and their family needs.

Once a family has purchased shares in local farms, they receive produce throughout the growing season as it becomes available. There are typically numerous pick-up points, where members of the local community supported agriculture can pick up their items on a weekly basis.

What are the Benefits of Community Supported Agriculture?

Some of the key benefits of getting involved in you local CSA program include:

- Getting fruits and vegetables as soon as they are ready, many times within 24 - 48 hours of being harvested.

- Knowing that your food is being produced locally. Often, food travels thousands of miles before arriving at its final destination, putting lots of carbon monoxide in the air.

- Supporting the local community and local business. Community Supported Agriculture allows farmers to get needed funds at the beginning of the growing season, when they need them. This lessens their dependence on banks for financing and allows them to concentrate on what they do best - farming.

- Brings communities together, as members feel invested in local farms. Many farms that participate will allow members to come for tours.

- In most cases, members will get their produce cheaper than what they'd pay in the grocery store.

What's the Catch?

There's really no catch, it's a great opportunity for almost everyone and it's available in every state. Even if you reside in a large city, chances are you can find a CSA that you can get involved in.

There is, however, a small amount of risk involved. Because CSA involves buying shares in farms at the beginning of the growing season, if the farmer has a bad season and is affected by weather or pests, there is the possibility of losing some of all of an investment.

However, most feel that the rewards far outweigh the potential risk. Many shareholders have also stated that they feel the risk involved helps them to understand the plight of local farmers.

Community supported agriculture has become so popular, in spite of the small risk, that in some areas there not enough local farms to support the demand for involvement.

How Do I Learn More?

If you'd like to learn more about community supported agriculture or about green eating and living, visit Green Living Made Easy.