Community Supported Agriculture: Know Where Your Food Comes From

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BRIDGEWATER, Iowa — As temperatures rise and days grow longer, many Iowans think about what they are going to grow in their gardens.

Others think of who is going to do the gardening for them. If you’re in this group, this story is for you.

Both groups long for the taste of fresh, locally grown produce. Beyond weekly visits to farmers markets across the state, more and more Iowans are turning to Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) for a steady supply of locally grown produce from a grower they have come to know and trust.

After a year of COVID-19 affecting food supplies, consumers are looking for a source of food they know will be there when they need it.

I visited Bridgewater Farms to talk with Dale and Marcie Raasch about their CSA program. Along with son Tyler, they grow certified organic produce on about 25 acres near Bridgewater, roughly an hour west of Des Moines. They explained that people buying a CSA are buying a share or a membership from a farmer. In return they receive a box or bag or basket of seasonal produce, usually weekly, during the growing season. Crops, prices, length of season and size and frequency of container vary with each grower. Some offer additional options like eggs or meats to members.

The Raasches sell at farmers’ markets and to grocery stores, but Dale says they take care of the CSA boxes first. What’s left after the boxes are filled is offered to the other markets.

Some farmers have sold out their CSA program already but there are still some available. And, as described, there are options depending on a grower’s program. Iowa State University Extension has an online map to help find CSAs in your area. Localharvet.org is another source to locate a CSA near you.

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