The public appetite for local produce is getting pretty ravenous these days. Farmer’s markets keep sprouting up all around L.A. (shout-out to the brand-new Motor Ave market in Palms!), and opportunities to order a box of produce delivered to your door are flowering like an orange tree in the California sun. Less than 20 years ago, there were 450 Community Supported Agriculture programs, also known as the box-of-veggies. By 2009 that number had nearly quadrupled to 3,637, according to a recent UC Davis study.
That same study found that CSA farms “are relatively small, with a median size of 20 acres; have a median membership of 60 (585 average); cultivate agrobiodiversity; and utilize growing practices that generally meet or exceed National Organic Program standards… CSA farmers are diverse in political orientation, yet are generally younger, better educated and more likely to be women than the general farming population.”
Joining a CSA allows city folks to actively support a farm of their choosing, and get regular servings of middle-of-the-food-pyramid staples without trekking to the market all the time.
Here’s how it works. You pick a farm — could be as local as the South Central Farmers Cooperative, or as far afield as northern California — and sign up for the service. For as little as $25 per crate, you pick up a box at a drop-off point or have one delivered to your door. Your money goes directly to the farmers who grow the food, and helps support small-scale local agriculture. Some farms have a wide variety of types of food to choose from, others specialize, and most have organic produce in their boxes.
How to choose? Here’s a list compiled by Ecovian, an online guide for green living in the city.
Want to know more about Central Valley farming and efforts to increase sustainability there, check out this Which Way, LA? and hear New York Times food writer Mark Bittman talk about his recent trip up around California’s agriculture industry.