Community Supported Agriculture or CSA is a concept which has really grown in popularity in the USA in the past 10 years. However I know of only one in Ireland. It’s in the Eco-Village in Cloughjordan, Co Tipperary. What is CSA?. Community Supported Agriculture consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, spiritually like a community farm, with the grower and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production. Typically, members of the CSA pledge in advance to cover the anticipated costs of the farm operation and farmer’s salary. In return, they receive shares in the farm’s bounty throughout the growing season, as well as satisfaction gained from reconnecting to the land and participating directly in food production. Members also share in the risks of farming, including poor harvests due to unfavorable weather or pests. By direct sales to community members, who have provided the farmer with working capital in advance, the growers receive much better prices for their crops, gain some financial security, and are relieved of much of the burden of marketing.

The members of the CSA greatly improve the quality of their food, reduce their food miles, improve their food resilience and also get closer to the land. It is a good solution to food resilience for someone who does not have the time, health or inclination to take on an allotment, but still wants the benefits of local fesh food.

The way it works is the CSA members pay a weekly subscription to the grower. In return they recieve a box of food once or twice a week, depending on the particular type of CSA. The food will be seasonal and will have been harvested that day. CSA’s range from straightforward vegetable box systems to CSA’s supplying milk, eggs and even meat, (chickens, pigs and beef). To give some idea of scale, the CSA in the Eco-Village in Cloughjordan has a total of 40 acres, with roughly 4 acres of land under vegetables with about 40 varieties of vegetable. They have 10 acres with cereal, the cereal is used to feed their livestock. Pigs, cattle, hens and goats. The growersupplies 55 members with two vegetable boxes per week. these boxes are delivered to a drop off point and are collected by the members. The grower also supplies eggs and milk. They occasionally supply meat from their farm by arrangement with a local craft butcher. This benefits the farmer, the local butcher and the CSA members who are supplied with excellent quality fesh organic meat at a very reasonable price.

If anyone is interested in getting involved in a CSA for Skerries, either as a Grower or a CSA Member contact us at sustskerries@yahoo.ie

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