From Our Inbox: So you guys are one of those farm subscriber thingies, right?

Those of you who read this blog regularly and who have been following the progress of the South Philly Food Co-op (and it's 256+ member-owners!) probably already know the difference between a co-op and a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). So you'd be surprised to know that this continues to be one of the most frequently asked questions that we get either by email or in person when we're tabling at events. It's so frequent, in fact, that we've put it in our FAQs. So, if you're out there doing what you should be doing - that is getting more people to join the Co-op - and you get this question, feel free to use some variation of our answer:

So you’re one of those farm shares, right? That’s cool but I’m not sure I could eat all that food by myself or find time to pick up my food once a week…

Whoa… whoa… whoa. Hold on, Tex. You’re mistaking a co-op for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). A CSA is an organization that supports farmers by having members each buy a “share,” which supports the whole budget of a single farm or several farming operations. Members have a “shared risk and reward” agreement with the faming operations, and are limited to what is seasonally available and ripe. That’s not what the South Philly Food Co-op is.

What we are trying to start is a food co-op or a grocery store that is owned and run by its member-owners, usually offering natural, organic and local foods and other products. Food co-ops tend to focus on social responsibility and community building more than for-profit grocery stores.

So it’s like any other grocery store in that you can shop there whenever it is open, get your food when your schedule allows and only buy what you need.

That's not to say we don't also love CSAs. In fact, many of our member-owners, board members and committee members also are involved with CSAs. Some host the weekly pick-ups at their home while others travel the great distance to the far-off Town of Fish (in the heart of Kensington Community Food Co-op country) to pick up their CSA from the uber awesome Greensgrow Farm. In the comments below, feel free to share your own experiences with a CSA and make recommendations to anyone who is looking to join one. We should all be supporting our local agriculture (which I'm sure the Co-op will do once it is open) or we run the risk of it going away and severely jeopardizing our regional food security. There are also a few resources out there that maintain lists of local CSA's including this one at Farm To City's website. Pretty sure most are still accepting subscriptions for their summer season (Greensgrow was as of May 10th) but you better hurry!