Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 605–614 | Cite as

CSA membership and psychological needs fulfillment: an application of self-determination theory

  • Lydia Zepeda
  • Anna Reznickova
  • Willow Saranna Russell


This qualitative study examines the relevance of self-determination theory to explain retention and attrition in community supported agriculture (CSA). Using a focus group study of CSA members, we examined whether belonging to a CSA supports basic psychological needs for autonomy, competency and relatedness. We found that it did for continuing members. However, for those who did not renew, membership reduced their sense of autonomy, competency, and relatedness. For continuing members, the intensity of their involvement did not affect their needs satisfaction, though it did influence how those needs were met. Continuing CSA members were also intrinsically motivated and internalized extrinsic motivations.


Community supported agriculture (CSA) Self-determination theory (SDT) 



Many thanks to the focus group participants, as well as to Claire Strader, the managing farmer at Troy Community Farm, and to Dr. Marcia Caton Campbell. We also thank the W.K. Kellogg Foundation who funded the original data collection via a grant entitled “UW-Troy Gardens Sustainable Urban Agriculture Learning Community Project,” and to the UW-Madison Community and Regional Food Systems Project for funding this analysis. Special gratitude is extended to an anonymous reviewer for all their suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lydia Zepeda
    • 1
  • Anna Reznickova
    • 2
  • Willow Saranna Russell
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Human EcologyUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Nelson Institute of Environmental StudiesUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  3. 3.Social Venture Partners SeattleSeattleUSA

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