Utah Department of Agriculture and Food

CSA Farmers Discuss Sustainability

Several local produce farmers who run Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, gathered at the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) building recently to learn and talk about ways to be more financially sustainable. Creating a Utah Association of Sustainable Agriculture non-profit organization was one of several ideas discussed.

Pending food safety regulations, the high cost of labor for packaging and distributing harvest shares, high land and water costs, and other factors make it difficult for many farms to stay in business, or at least to keep their CSA programs going.

Some of the other ideas discussed included partnering with other farmers on growing crops, or packaging and distributing weekly produce shares. They also talked about having more extensive training from Utah State University on upcoming food safety regulations and determining prices to meet profit goals.

CSA is an umberella term that refers to farms that offer season-long subscriptions or memberships. Members, also known as shareholders, pay a fee for the season and receive a share of the produce the farm harvests each week. CSA members receive high quality produce and other farm products that are fresh, local and seasonal, while farmers have a predetermined home for a percentage of the produce they harvest.

Many of the farmers that attended the workshop plan to continue discussions during the next couple of months via email, and meet again informally at an upcoming urban and small farms conference in February, in South Jordan.