POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - As farmers deal with break downs in the food supply chain, there's a program that seems to be keeping some farms afloat.
Community Supported Agriculture, or CSAs, are gaining popularity across the country. And they're saving farmers.
"Usually, CSA helps make a buffer for us in the spring, but this year with all the COVID-19 trouble, it was a lifesaver," said Wendy Swore of Swore Farms north of Pocatello.
With unexpected expenses and bureaucratic complications, Swore Farms' CSA program filled a much needed gap.
“The time when the farmers need the most money to be able to get things done is in the spring when we don’t have anything to sell or give because we need to plant,” Swore said.
CSAs are an investment into a local farm. The consumer pays for a subscription or "share" of the farm's produce in the spring. Throughout the harvesting season, subscribers get a weekly box of seasonal produce, picked the same day.
“It’s just a surprise, you get what you get. It’s awesome though; some weeks you’ll come home with 20 cucumbers and five pounds of green beans. Other weeks it’s corn and potatoes,” said Katrina Baker, a long-time subscriber to Swore Farms' CSA.
But like any investment, the subscriber takes on a risk. If it's a bad year for crops, they'll notice right away.
The draw to CSAs for consumers is clear: locally grown food with fewer hands on the produce. During a pandemic, that seems to strike a chord with consumers.
Swore said she's had more people interested in her CSA this year than ever before.
“I think they know that if they’re getting their produce from the farm its going to be an open-air, outside, fairly low-risk place versus having to go into the store to get the vegetables,” Swore said.
And with images of farmers dumping milk and destroying produce, the sense of security a CSA brings is appealing to people.
“At least for now, it’s food security. You know that you get to go each week and you’ll bring home that basket or those bags of produce for your family,” Baker said.