Community Support Shop Local, Buy Local

Does your community support local farms and markets?
Learn how and where to shop for the healthiest fiber foods.

Food Co-Op

Food Co-operative (Co-Op) pools member time, skills, money, and resources. The group locates, obtains, organizes, and distributes produce and other grocery items to members. The real value of a Co-Op is the high quality products delivered for the best possible price.

Members own the Co-Op and share the responsibilities. Everyone may be required to work a certain number of hours. Or the Co-Op may function like a buying club or retail store. All rules are determined by the owner members.

Food Co-Ops focus on consumer education, product quality, co-operative effort, and local community support. Coordination between a Co-Op and local, family-owned farms is typical.

Farmers’ Market

Farmers’ Market is a place established in a public location for a group of farmers to sell products. Sometimes the location is a parking lot or empty lot. Other markets reside inside a store or covered mall. Usually Farmers’ Markets open one or two days a week, either year-around or during harvest seasons. (USDA can help you locate farm markets in your area.)

A Farmers’ Market allows you to get to know local farmers in your area. You can also get great advice about produce, recipes, what isin season, and which items are freshest.

At some markets a farm family will offer baked goods, home-canned vegetables, jams and jellies, or other delicacies for sale. Look for local honey and herbs to be available, too.

CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)

Community Supported Agriculture has become a way for consumers to form a relationship with a local farm. The consumers become members by providing a monetary investment to fund a portion of the farms expenses. In return the farm provides each member a quantity of produce from each harvest. The agreement (or contract) between the consumer group and the farm sets the monetary terms for each member share, schedule of payments,conditions for membership, as well as the expected return from harvest. The actual harvest result will determine the actual amount of food distributed to each member. Not all harvest years end in abundance.

Most often farms participating in a community supported agriculture program requires membership payments in full prior to the start of the growing season. This payment schedule allows a small farmer to pay farm expenses as the occur. Some CSA farms do not allow members to visit the fields while farm work proceeds. Others may ask or require members to work a few hours on the farm each season, or to participate in harvests.

The number of farms participating in CSA memberships is growing in the United States.

Can you can buy high quality foods grown near your home?

U-Pick Farms

Some farms let you pick (U-Pick) produce directly from the field. U-Pick farms only open during during a harvest season. Depending on the crops grown in your area, you will probably find U-Pick farms open during summer and autumn months. Be sure to contact the farm before visiting to learn which crops are available, amounts and prices, hours for picking, and any rules they may have set. Ask if you can bring children or pets.

Farm Stand

A farm stand is any place that sells produce from a single farm. The stand could be a roadside shelter, or the back of a truck or trunk of a car.

You may find a stand near the farm itself or along a well traveled highway or road more near customer traffic. Some stands on farm property may be self-service and rely on your honor to pay for your items. Be grateful a farmer shares his bounty with you and pay an honest price.

Buying Club

A Buying Club arranges to buy a product in bulk, a large quantity for a lower price than individual members would pay in a retail store. The quantity is then shared among the members of the club who each pay a portion of the total cost. Though similar in practice to a Food Co-Op, the intent of a Buying Club is to lower the product cost. A food Co-Op extends its concerns to consumer education, community spirit, and product quality.