CSA Member Research: Background Information

What is CSA?

Bed of greens at Troy Community FarmIn CSA (community supported agriculture) consumers to buy products directly from a farmer. However, unlike shopping at the farmers’ market, CSA members pay a lump sum of money up front and receive a pre-selected bundle of produce every week during the growing season. This way consumers and farmers share the risks of agriculture. Everyone receives more from a rich harvest and less from a poor one.

You can read more about Troy Community Farm.

What Makes Troy Unique?

Troy Community Farm is one of over 24 CSA farms serving the greater Madison area, but it is one of the only farms within Madison’s city limits. This makes it easy for Troy CSA members to visit the farm and gardens and most pick up their vegetables on-site, but it also limits the amount and variety of produce that can be grown on a finite amount of land. It is also a part of this larger non-profit organization, the Friends of Troy Gardens, while many other CSA farms are independent, for-profit operations.

What Does the Current Literature Say About Membership Renewal?

People often join CSA because they want to access fresh and organic produce, support a local farmer, and because they have an interest in protecting the environment and promoting sustainable food systems. A member’s decision to renew their membership is often connected to their satisfaction with these elements and with the level of engagement they have with the farm. They most common reasons for giving up a membership are dissatisfaction with the lack of choice in the types and quantity of various produce items and the inconvenience associated with having to pick up a share at a set time and place (Cone and Myhre 2000; Farnsworth et al. 1996; Delind and Ferguson 1999; Lang 2005).

What Does the Current Literature Say About Attitude and Behavior Change Associated with CSA Membership?

O’Hara and Stagl (2002) showed that CSA members adopted greener preferences for supporting local farmers, buying organic foods, and eating seasonally. The authors stressed the importance of "learning and institution forming" within CSA and introduced the idea of "endogenous preferences" or preferences that change over time as consumers interact with their CSA.

For a list of the works cited in this research see: Bibliography and Works Cited

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