For the past 20 years, we have heard a great deal about Community Supported Agriculture as a novel marketing and community-building concept. The accepted history of Community Supported Agriculture in the United States is that Jan VanderTuin brought the concept from Switzerland in 1984. CSA projects had been sprouting up there and in other parts of Europe since the 1960s. Such enterprises also were found in Japan in the 1960s when women’s neighborhood groups began approaching farmers to develop direct, cooperative relationships between producers and consumers, known as ‘teikei.’
In 1986, the first two CSA projects in the United States began delivering harvest ‘shares’ from Robyn Van En’s Indian Line Farm in Massachusetts and the Temple/Wilton Community Farm in New Hampshire. As of March 2004, 1,034 CSAs were listed in a national database managed by the Robyn Van En Center for CSA Resources1 in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Agricultural Library, Alternative Farm Systems Information Center.
A reference list of CSA information compiled by the USDA lists more than 100 articles and books, many published in the mid-1990s. CSA has been covered in everything from Mother Jones and Mother Earth News to the American Journal of Agricultural Economics. For more than a decade, major newspapers have been touting the CSA model as a way to buy farm fresh produce and build urban-rural partnerships.