Community Supported Agriculture projects (in German SOLAs for Solidarische Landwirtschaftsprojekte) are not particularly based on appearances, but rather on their way of production and especially marketing. Central to this concept is the secured vending of the products and cost recovery for the producers. CSAs can be located in cities or its boarders, but also in rural areas. We have included Community Supported Agriculture projects in Austria on our gardening map.
Characteristic features of CSAs are:
The central aspect of CSAs is, that members and/or consumers have contracts with the producers. At the beginning of each year, the members agree on taking a certain quantity of products in this period of time. That enables the producers to know at the beginning of the year, how much is needed by their group of consumers. The payment method is often in advance or in rates. The costs of the production is guessed or calculated out of experience and divided by the members. Therefor the producer is able to harmonise the demand with the supply, there is no surplus production and most importantly, the risk is divided as well on all the members. This financial security for the producers enables them towards a conscious and carful planning and production. Depending on the type of CSA, the members have influence on the vegetable species and curiosities; specialised cultivations can therefor as well be lucrative in this scheme.
The distribution of the products depends on the type of products. Seasonal vegetables will get distributed most likely weekly. If meet is included in the CSA, members can let the producers know how much they would like to consume in the upcoming year and the animals will be raised and slaughtered accordingly. The products can get collected directly on the farm or garden, or will be send to distribution points. The members can collect either ready packed boxes or assemble their own box. It is aimed to use as little packaging as possible.
The closeness between consumers and producers creates a direct feedback loop about the products. Often there is also the possibilty to get insights in the production or even help hands on. At workshops on the farms and frequent communications can the producers pass on their important experience and people learn about the present day situation of agriculture and their food. Most CSAs are organic, but not always certified organic. The economic structures of Community Supported Agriculture supports local economies and is based on support and trust.