Welcome to the Tucson CSA. We welcome all who want to participate in a healthier and more sustainable food system. Members can sign up for 6 or 12 pickups at a time, and they pick up their produce once a week in the courtyard of The Historic Y, half a mile west of the University of Arizona campus.
But what exactly is a CSA? A CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is a partnership of mutual commitment between a farm and a community of members who pledge their support to the farm operation so that the farmland becomes the community’s farm, with the farmers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production. Members pay upfront for a season by buying “shares” of the farm’s future harvests. This provides the farm with the necessary operating capital to start a planting and harvesting cycle and guarantees the farm a stable market for a diverse selection of crops. Through direct sales to their members, growers receive better prices for their crops and are relieved of much of the burden of marketing their products. Members also share in the risks of farming, including poor harvests caused by unfavorable weather, pests or field conditions.
In return, the farm pledges to offer its members weekly “shares” of its harvests. One of the greatest pleasures of eating local organically grown produce comes from knowing that it is grown by farmers who made conscious choices about cultivating their land in environmentally, economically and socially responsible ways. They give us produce which is fresher, healthier, more diverse and more flavorful than industrially grown produce harvested before maturity and shipped over long distances. Participating in a local food system also fosters closer relationships among us, the foods we eat, those who grow it, and the environment we live in.
This mutually supportive relationship between local farmers and community members helps create an economically stable farm operation in which members are assured the highest quality produce, often below retail prices.
There are many different types of CSAs. Typically, a CSA is managed by a farm where members go to to pick up their weekly produce shares. However, in the Southwestern US, farms are often located away from cities, making this difficult. The Tucson CSA was born as a community initiative in 2004, when 15 University of Arizona students entered an agreement with a farm to have produce shares delivered to them. Today, the Tucson CSA works with a dozen farms and ranches to provide fresh farm products to over 300 Tucson families. It acts as an extension of those farms into the city, offering local produce, bread, cheeses, grass-fed meats, eggs, honey and more, all organically produced. At the Tucson CSA, you always know where your food comes from, who produces it and how. You know that it is naturally grown or humanely raised, with no chemical pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, fertilizers, hormones or antibiotics. And you know that neither people nor the environment are abused in the course of its production.