UF community invited to participate in community agriculture program

September 9, 2010

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida Office of Sustainability will offer a location on campus this fall for local farms to provide their produce to the UF community through a Community Supported Agriculture Program, known as a CSA.

The pilot year of the Gator CSA starts in mid-October with four farm CSAs delivering their members’ shares to campus each Monday between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m.

In a CSA program, local consumers become farm members by paying a set price at the beginning of the season, either as a lump sum or in installments. The cost depends on the length of the season and the variety and quantity of products provided. The up-front payment helps buy the seed and fund other expenses necessary for the season, gives the farmer immediate income, and allows the farmer to concentrate on land stewardship and growing good food rather than marketing. By committing to a price and paying at the beginning of the season, members also share in the bounty and risks of the harvest.

In return for this commitment, farmers provide fresh vegetables, fruits and other farm products directly to members each week throughout the growing season. The members eat healthy food, know where it comes from and how it is grown, share a connection to the land with the farmers who feed them and support the local economy.

UF is providing coordination and communication, as well as a physical location for pickup, to facilitate participation in community-supported agriculture by its staff, faculty and students.

“We are really excited by the response we’ve already seen from our campus community; it is amazing how many people were just waiting for this kind of opportunity,” said Anna Prizzia, director for UF’s Office of Sustainability, “I hope that the program will be a great success and that we will see it grow over the years.”

According to Prizzia, there are limited spots available and the demand seems high. Individuals sign up for a CSA membership directly with the farmer. For more information on the Gator CSA program and participating farms, you can visit http://www.sustainability.ufl.edu/gatorscsa, or contact the UF Office of Sustainability at info@sustainability.ufl.edu.