Are you eating enough fruits and vegetables? Based on guidelines established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Harvard University, half your plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables at every meal.  However, in a recent study, researchers found that only 14 percent of U.S. adults ate at least two servings of fruits and three servings of vegetables per day.

What if you could get inspired to eat more fruits and veggies by getting them directly from a local farmer and contributing to a community at the same time?  It’s possible through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).  Here’s a three-step plan that could work for you.

Step One: Know How It Works
A farmer invites you and a finite group of other people to pay for fresh produce throughout the harvest season. In return, you collect a box of fresh fruits and vegetables once a week grown by the farmer. Some farmers deliver right to your door. Some invite you to visit the farm.  Some bring the produce to a central location once a week.

Step Two: Get Fresh Produce and Provide Support to the Local Farmer
You get higher quality, locally grown fruits and vegetables while avoiding the hassle of shopping for produce at the store. CSA also helps the farmer by providing cash up front before the harvest begins, but there’s one more added benefit: community supported agriculture creates a community between like-minded health-conscious consumers and the farmer. Show up to collect your produce for the week, and you can ask the farmer about how the produce was grown and harvested.  You can also share recipes and cooking ideas with others in the group.

Step Three: Find A Community In Your Area
If you want to find farm-fresh produce through a CSA in your area, go to www.localharvest.org.  This database contains an estimated 4,000 active community supported agriculture groups throughout the U.S.

Most people find that getting farm-fresh produce this way is worth the investment; however, be aware community supported agriculture comes with a little bit of risk. If there’s a terrible storm that wipes out the crop, or the farmer fails to care for the crops properly, there’s a chance you might not get your money’s worth.  In most cases it’s a win-win; the farmer goes above and beyond to raise high-quality crops and provide personal, friendly customer service to his “community.”

Bottom line: stocking up on fresh fruits and vegetables like this is a great way to support local farmers, get the nutrients you need in your diet from plant-based foods, and be part of something sustainable in the long run.