A Short Glossary of Direct Marketing Avenues

What is CSA?
Community Supported Agriculture is a way for the food buying public to create a relationship with a farm and to receive a weekly basket of produce. By making a financial commitment to a farm, people become "members" (or "shareholders," or "subscribers") of the CSA. Most CSA farmers prefer that members pay for the season up-front, but some farmers will accept weekly or monthly payments. Some CSAs also require that members work a small number of hours on the farm during the growing season.

A CSA season typically runs from late spring through early fall. The number of CSAs in the United States was estimated at 50 in 1990, and has since grown to several thousand. more on CSAs...

What is a Farmers' Market?
In a farmers' market, a group of farmers sell their products once or twice a week at a designated public place like a park or parking lot. Some farmers' markets have live entertainment. Shopping at a farmers' market is a great way to meet local farmers and get fresh, flavorful produce!

What is a U-Pick?
A U-Pick is a farm that opens its fields to the public during harvest season. U-Pick farms offer fruits such as strawberries, kiwi, and pumpkins in the summer and early fall months.

What is a Farm Stand?
A farm stand is a place where a single farm sells its produce, either from the back of a truck parked on Main Street, or from a roadside stand near or on their farm. Farm stands are generally only open during warm weather, and may be "self serve."

What is a Food Coop?
Food cooperatives are worker or customer owned entities that provide grocery items of the highest quality and best value to their members. Coops can take the shape of retail stores or buying clubs. All food coops are committed to consumer education, product quality, and member control, and usually support their local communities by selling produce grown locally by family farms.

How are Meat, Dairy, and Eggs Sold Directly to the Public?
In many parts of the country, local sources of meat, dairy, and eggs have become increasingly hard to find over the past several decades, but this is slowly changing. A few CSAs and farmers' markets now offer these products. As more and more people look for alternatives to "factory farm"-produced products, small farmers are responding with a variety of methods of delivering them to the local community. People appreciate the superior flavor and freshness of these foods, along with the good feeling they get from supporting small-scale, environmentally sensible operations.