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Taking a Look at L.A.'s Community Supported Agriculture Programs

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In light of First Lady Michelle Obama's new childhood obesity campaign, it's a good time to look beyond the plethora of farmers markets and check out some CSAs, otherwise known as Community Supported Agriculture. The basic concept goes like this, as explained by Local Harvest, a Santa Cruz-based website:

a farmer offers a certain number of "shares" to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a "membership" or a "subscription") and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.

There is, however, a lot of variation. Some CSAs are home-delivery based while others have a weekly location for pick-up. Some are strict on what you get and others have flexibility if there is a vegetable you absolutely hate. Some are focused on just one farmer and family and others are a mix of farmers from across the region. Some even offer other products like eggs and bread.

For example, Silver Lake farms offers you a box of their food for $20 a week. For $15 a week, you can get box of vegetables at a handful of farmers markets grown by one of the South Central Farmers, who now work out of the Bakersfield area. For $25 a week, CSA California offers an array of vegetables from a group of farms for varieties sake (your rosemary may come from Topanga and your grapefruit from Rancho Cucamonga).

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Above are photos from this afternoon at CSA California, which sells out of a handful of L.A.-area locations, including a couple schools where a portion of the weekly membership fee goes toward the students' gardening and nutrition programs. In the Valley, about 100 members pick up their produce at Rio Vista Elementary School, which just happens to be on a street called Satsuma.

If you have any experience or questions about CSAs, let it be known in the comments section as we'll be looking more into these over the next few months.