The classic community supported agriculture (CSA) model is an arrangement between the farmer and customer that provides money in advance to the farmer during the planning and planting season when there is no cash flow to operate the farm. The farmer uses the proceeds to pay for seeds, growing materials, equipment and labor. In return, the farmer provides CSA members with a weekly box of produce throughout the growing season.
CSA members are invested in the farm for that season. They share in the harvest when it is bountiful, but also share with the farm the many inherent risks and challenges of agriculture - drought, early frost, wind and hail, to name a few, that results in a less-than-bountiful harvest.
There are many variations of the CSA model that incorporate ranchers raising livestock, orchards raising fruits, producers crafting artisan cheese and bread for customers and many more. The latest twist on the CSA model comes in the form of "select"or "a la carte", web-based CSA's.