Farmworkers harvesting summer squash in Costa Rica
Food Systems and Sustainability Lab

Galt Lab

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in California

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in California

vegetablesCommunity supported agriculture (CSA) is an important new relationship between producers and consumers that addresses many of the problems of the industrial food system. This project seeks to create a comprehensive account of the social and economic characteristics of CSA farms and their memberships in California. The aim is to better understand the benefits and possibilities of this ecological form of agriculture.

This statewide study, with data collection from 2013-2015, builds on previous research conducted from 2009-2011 in the Central Valley and surrounding foothills. This previous project resulted in a number of publications (listed at the bottom of the page) that farmers have told me that they find useful. It also helped identify research needs of CSA farmers, which included farmer economic well-being and membership retention. 

My statewide project was a direct response to these needs and focuses on farmer economic well-being, membership retention, and the possibilities of expanding CSA membership.   This project had four major components, including a CSA farmer/operator survey, current and former member surveys, a California grocery purchasers survey, and in-depth case studies of CSAs.

peopleI strive to use a research process that is accessible and responsive to the needs of people invested in CSA. For this reason, I established an advisory board to help inform the research process. It was composed of CSA farmers, UC Cooperative Extension Advisors, and staff from non-governmental organizations that support CSA. Through this project I hope to cultivate long-term relationships with CSA farmers in California so I can continue to address issues of concern. 

The graduate student researchers involved were Natasha Simpson, Kate Munden-Dixon, Katie Bradley, and Libby O'Sullivan Christensen. This project was funded by a University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources competitive grant.


Galt, Ryan E., Katharine Bradley, Libby O. Christensen, and Kate Munden-Dixon. 2019. The (un)making of “CSA people”: member retention and the customization paradox in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in California. Journal of Rural Studies 65: 172-185. [PDF] [Pre-publication version]

Galt, Ryan E., Julia Van Soelen Kim, Kate Munden-Dixon, Libby O. Christensen, and Katharine Bradley. 2019. Retaining members of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in California for economic sustainability: what characteristics affect retention rates? Sustainability, Special Issue: Management of Community Supported Agriculture, 11(9), p. 2489 [PDF] [Pre-publication version]

Galt, Ryan E., Katharine Bradley, Libby O. Christensen, and Kate Munden-Dixon. 2018. Exploring member data for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in California: comparisons of former and current CSA members.  Data in Brief 21, 2082-2088. [PDF] [Pre-publication version]

 Galt, Ryan E., Katharine Bradley, Libby O’Sullivan Christensen, Cindy Fake, Katherine Munden-Dixon, Natasha Simpson, Rachel Surls, and Julia Van Soelen Kim. 2017. What difference does income make for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) members in California? Comparing lower-income and higher-income households. Agriculture and Human Values 34 (2): 435-452. [PDF] [Pre-publication version]

Galt, Ryan E., Katharine Bradley, Libby O’Sullivan Christensen, Julia Van Soelen Kim, and Ramiro Lobo. 2015. Eroding the community in community supported agriculture (CSA): competition’s effects in alternative food networks in California. Sociologia Ruralis[Full text (protected)]

Galt, Ryan E. and Libby O. Christensen. 2014. Preliminary Report: Current and Former CSA Members in California. Davis: University of California. [Full text (PDF)]


Below are findings from the previous study focused on the Central Valley:

Galt, Ryan E. 2013. The moral economy is a double-edged sword: explaining farmer earnings and self-exploitation in Community Supported Agriculture. Economic Geography 89 (4):341–365. [Full text (protected)] [Pre-publication version]

Galt, Ryan E., Libby O’Sullivan, Jessica Beckett, and Colleen Hiner. 2012. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is thriving in the Central Valley. California Agriculture 66 (1):8-14. [Full text (open-access)]

Galt, Ryan E., Jessica Beckett, Colleen C. Hiner, and Libby O'Sullivan. 2011. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in and around California’s Central Valley: farm and farmer characteristics, farm-member relationships, economic viability, information sources, and emerging issues. Davis: University of California. [Full text (PDF)]

Galt, Ryan E. 2011. Counting and mapping Community Supported Agriculture in the United States and California: contributions from critical cartography/GIS. ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies 10 (2), 131 - 162. [Full text (open-access)]


Who we are

We are a group of researchers looking at how to make agriculture and food systems more just and sustainable. We study the ways that political, economic, and social structures influence the resiliency and fairness of our food systems throughout the value chain from production to consumption. Our work has a particular emphasis on California and Latin America.