Improving the Environment for Community Supported Agriculture in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 1997: $23,966.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2000
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $3,541.00
Region: North Central
State: Michigan
Project Coordinator:

Annual Reports


  • Additional Plants: herbs, ornamentals
  • Miscellaneous: mushrooms


  • Education and Training: decision support system, extension, networking
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, community-supported agriculture
  • Sustainable Communities: public participation, urban/rural integration, social networks, sustainability measures


    Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a model that holds potential for supporting small, diversified farmers and providing area residents with fresh, locally-grown and minimally processed food and fiber. It is at once a way of marketing local produce and of building community around the activities of agriculture and food production. CSA encourages growers and eaters to interact, to share the risks and rewards of farming, to learn more about each other, their environment and their food system. The long-term benefits of such a relationship are greater food security and local self-reliance.

    While CSA provides an alternative to the dominant, long-distance food system, the concept is not wide-spread and CSAs are themselves quite vulnerable. Individual farms are small and labor- intensive. Typically, they operate with severely limited capital and material resources. CSAs are likewise without supporting networks or infrastructure to minimize the impact of economic and production shortfalls and to assist with consumer education. These conditions are particularly pronounced in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.

    Three non-profit organizations, MOFFA, OEFFA and Sustainable Earth, Inc have joined forces to promote greater public awareness and support for CSA in each of their respective states. To this end, they have researched and published a CSA directory, The Many Faces of Community Supported Agriculture: Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. The directory profiles existing CSAs in all three states and makes recommendations to extension personnel, community planners and activists for publicizing the CSA concept and addressing the problems currently faced by these small, diversified farm enterprises. An annotated slide show, The ABCs of CSAs has also been created to accompany the directory and will be used as yet another extension and public education tool. Dialogue between the three non-profits and individual CSAs is presently underway to determine how best to develop inter- and intra-state CSA networks.

    Project objectives:

    1. To increase extension awareness of the CSA concept, its potential and presence in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.

    2. To increase public (grower and eater) recognition of CSA in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana as a model for local food and farming.

    3. To develop instruments to enable dialogue and collective action among CSAs and CSA advocates in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.