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Buying direct from the grower -- Minnesota CSA farms accepting members

"Buying Local" -- or direct from the grower -- is a hot national trend. Minnesota fruit and vegetable farms are increasingly marketing direct to consumers to meet demand for fresh, healthy, local farm produce.

Farmers' markets, roadside stands and agri-tourism destinations like apple orchards and berry patches are just a few manifestations of this trend.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms are another way growers can share the bounty and risk of farming, while supplying hungry consumers with fresh food that is not imported from a distant port.

CSA Farms are a mutual commitment between the grower and paying members. For an up-front fee (around $500-$600), each member receives an equal amount of food throughout the growing season, called a "share."

Shares are generally delivered to "drop-site" locations on a weekly basis, or picked up at the farm in bags or baskets. Some CSA's allow half or "split" shares which can be a good way to try the concept.

While many CSA farms are located near the Twin Cities, they are popping up across the state. Paul Hanson, owner of Today's Food, Inc. in Benedict, Minn. (near Walker) said that after just one year, the people in his rural northwestern Minnesota community really appreciate his CSA operation.

"People are very interested and are enjoying us being here," Hanson said.

CSA farms are good for both the farmer and consumer. Farmers benefit from a defined income and market for their produce. Consumers benefit from the healthy food choices made available by the steady source of fresh local produce and from the camaraderie and connection to a farm and farmer.

The Minnesota Grown Program publishes a list of CSA farms in the annual Minnesota Grown Directory. The publication currently lists 21 Minnesota CSA farms. Listings include hot-links to CSA websites where consumers can check out their offerings.

CSA's need to establish membership before spring planting. Find a CSA farm with a drop-site location, farm location, and any extra's such as events or other products beyond produce (flowers/eggs/meat/poultry) by searching the Minnesota Grown Directory at