Prescott College, AZ Community Supported Agriculture Program

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Prescott College, AZ, US

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Type: Program

Status: In Effect

Source File:


Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is an alternative social and economic arrangement to conventional industrial food production. The community makes a bold statement in support of local, sustainable agriculture, and the farmers receive a sense of security in their careers. 'Shares' of the harvest are equally distributed among the community. This method spreads the economic risk of farming during the season among all in vested members. The community gains a greater sense of responsibility and a closer connection to their food source, while the farmer receives support for the quality of life they deserve.

History of CSAs

CSA’s originated in Japan approximately 30 years ago through a small community of women that saw the decline of farming in their area and an increase in imported food products. The original CSA model revolved around a community buying all of its food from one farmer and providing everything that farmer needed to be productive. The PCCSA model varies in the number of farmers we are able to work with. Prescott is a large enough community that a group of people joining together can support several farmers, each growing different crops during different seasons. In this way the PCCSA can supply a larger portion of our diet year-round and we as shareholders can still provide a guaranteed income for our farmers.

CSA’s are also about conservation and stewardship. Through buying the produce directly from the farmers, the shareholders are paying just above wholesale prices for the freshest produce possible. This may be an advantage to the consumer but the farmers benefit as well. By selling direct to the consumer, the farmers can actually make more money than if they sell through a grocery chain. This relationship of direct marketing allows the farmers to invest in the quality of the land they farm. The increased income can go into cover crops, improving the life span of the soil, or simply enable the farmers to employ the labor necessary to grow crops organically.

PCCSA (Prescott College CSA) Model:

In the PCCSA members sign up for a share, (either seasonal or year-long) and then pick up their produce once a week. Because the PCCSA is a cooperative CSA, meaning that we get our food from more than one farm, we are able to support several farmers around the state and in turn provide a variety of produce throughout the year. Depending on the season this includes; vegetables, fruits, nuts, and honey, as well as the option to buy eggs, meat, goat milk, and cheese.

How is this Program Unique?

  • Locally-Grown. All of the food in the PCCSA comes from Arizona, with an average distance of 100 miles to our farms. In contrast, food in the grocery store has traveled an average of 1,500 miles before reaching the eater.
  • Direct Marketing. Through buying the produce directly from the farmers, our shareholders are paying less than retail prices for the freshest produce possible, and the farmers are making well over wholesale. Farmers selling through grocery chains, on the other hand, receive an average of 6-8 % of the price consumers pay for packaged and processed goods.
  • Conservation and Stewardship. The increased income received through direct marketing can go into cover crops, improving the life span of the soil, or simply enable the farmers to employ the labor necessary to grow crops organically.