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Portland Area CSA Coalition Awarded $250,000 Grant from USDA to Boost Community Supported Agricultur

Grant includes community education, expanded programs for SNAP recipients, OSU research, and tools to help local farms thrive

Portland, Ore. – The Portland Area CSA Coalition, a 501(c3) nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a sustainable local food system via community supported agriculture (CSA), was recently awarded approximately $250,000 by the Agricultural Marketing Service, a division of the USDA, to increase direct market sales of CSA to the Portland region. CSA is a trusted relationship between consumers and a local, family-owned farm. CSA members eat the freshest foods available—usually harvested that day—and support the farmers who are committed to growing their food all season long, supporting a local, sustainable food system.

As conventional agriculture is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, building sustainable food systems is an important component to reversing climate change. One way that consumers can minimize their carbon footprint is to buy food from local farmers who practice environmentally-sound, regenerative farming techniques. CSA is the most effective way for consumers to support their local farmers, while conveniently accessing fresh, nutrient-dense, delicious food.

Portland is an underserved CSA market, with approximately one percent of its population part of a CSA program. However, there are 44 thriving farmers markets in the metro region alone, indicating that Portland has a strong appetite for local, sustainable food.

“This grant will have a huge impact to further our mission to educate people about CSA, connect farmers and consumers, and support the businesses of our local farmers,” said Holly Hutchason, executive director, Portland Area CSA Coalition. “Portlanders care deeply about local, sustainable food but many either haven’t heard of a CSA, or the term is misunderstood as a food or vegetable delivery service. Having a thriving, local food system is important for the environment as well as our community’s health and wellness.”

The grant supports programming to be conducted over the next three years, including research by Oregon State University to study regional CSA data and trends to identify direct-market growth opportunities; community outreach and education to increase public awareness about CSA; assistance for farmers needing to expand and retain their customer base; and expansion of programs that increase access to healthy vegetables and fruits for families that receive supplemental nutrition assistance benefits (SNAP).

To learn more about CSAs or to sign up for a CSA, Portland-area residents can attend the 2020 CSA Share Fair, on Sunday, March 22, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. at The Redd (east), located at 831 SE Salmon Street. This is a free, annual event attended by over 40 local farms, fishers, and ranchers. Children are welcome.

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