; Sharing the Risk: Risk Communication in Community-Supported Agriculture Programs | Conferences | AgRisk Library


Conference Name Sharing the Risk: Risk Communication in Community-Supported Agriculture Programs

Mayhah Suri and Paul Goeringer


In recent decades, community-supported agriculture has become increasingly popular in the United States as an alternative farming system. No CSA-specific regulations exist in the state of Maryland, limiting the ability of Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) to mediate conflicts between CSA farm operators and CSA farm members when they arise. The poster presents the results of a study conducted by MDA in June and July of 2014 after receiving complaints from unhappy CSA farm members. Two surveys were distributed through email, one to CSA farm operators and one to CSA farm members. The farmer survey found that 70 percent of all farmers reported having a conversation in some form about the risks of joining a CSA farm. Just over half of the member respondents reported signing a membership agreement before joining. Upon closer study of some of the membership agreements available on CSA farm websites, however, it was found that most of them discuss risk in vague terms. While farmers in Maryland do mention risk to members, it is not clearly explained in written agreements. Educational efforts to provide stronger methods of risk communication, such as a model membership agreement with a well-defined explanation of risk, could be important in increasing transparency and strengthening the relationship between CSA farm operators and members. Participants would take a similar survey method to gain a better understanding of CSA farms in their communities in order to develop additional targeted, relevant educational efforts to support CSA farm operators in their communities.