Farming alone? What’s up with the “C” in community supported agriculture
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This study reconsiders the purported benefits of community found in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Using an online survey of members who belong to CSAs in New York, between November and December 2010, we assess members’ reasons for joining a CSA, and their perceptions of community within their CSA and beyond. A total of 565 CSA members responded to the survey. Results show an overwhelming majority of members joined their CSA for fresh, local, organic produce, while few respondents joined their CSA to build community, meet like-minded individuals or share financial risk with farmers. Members reported that they do not derive a strong sense of community from either their CSA or other forms of community, yet they volunteered at their CSA and appear to be engaged in activities within their communities, though the frequency of the latter is unknown. These data suggest New York CSAs are oriented toward the instrumental and functional models, which emphasize the economic aspects of farming rather than collaborative models, which foster community (Feagan and Henderson 2009).
KeywordsCommunity supported agriculture (CSA) Community New York CSA members
The authors would like to extend a note of gratitude to Brandon Lang for sharing his CSA membership survey with us. Additionally we would like to thank Ross Cheit, Charles Feldman, Deborah Grayson, and George Martin for reading preliminary drafts of the manuscript, and to Archana Kuma for assistance with ANOVA analysis.
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