What is a CSA?

Welcome to the Tucson CSA. 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 and socially responsible ways. Such produce is also fresher, healthier 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.

An increasingly popular way to obtain local foods is through a CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, a farming business model that originated in Japan and spread to the USA in the late 80s. A CSA is a partnership between a farmer and a community of members who 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 guaranteeing the farm a stable market for its products. In return, the farm pledges to offer each member weekly “shares” of its harvests.

A CSA is typically managed by a farm, where members pick up their weekly shares. However, there are many different types of CSAs. In the Southwestern US, farms are often located far from cities, making this difficult. So, in 2004, when 15 University of Arizona students entered an agreement with a farm to have produce shares delivered in Tucson once a week, the Tucson CSA was born, as a community initiative. 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 grown, raised or 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.

The Tucson CSA welcomes 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 shares once a week in the courtyard of The Historic Y, half a mile west of the University of Arizona campus.