Getting Rid Of Your Grocer

Community supported agriculture
Farmer Nancy Roe, left, supplies a Community Suported Agriculture program in Palm Beach County, Fla. The programs let farmers sell a monthly assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables directly to consumers for $25 to $50 a month and have grown quickly throughout the country.

Consumers seeking a healthy lifestyle these days are increasingly cutting out the supermarket and going straight to the farmer for fresh fruits and vegetables. CBS News correspondent Kelly Cobiella reports that community-supported agriculture is a growing trend.

On a small farm in Palm Beach County, Fla., it's harvesting season. They're picking and packing. Only this bounty isn't headed for a big warehouse or grocery store.

It's going from Nancy Roe's fields straight to Florida kitchens. From field to table. No stops in between.

It's called community supported agriculture or CSA - part of the "buy local" movement. Customers pay Roe directly, and she sends them a box of fresh produce every week of the growing season.

"Our business really is [doing] better than most people's businesses," these days, Roe said.

It can cost anywhere from $25 to $50 a week, while the average family spends under $12 on fruit and vegetables. Still, demand far outweighs supply.

Even with the recession, Roe is doing pretty well. "I was a little surprised," she said. "Last year when we had our signup period that starts in August, we were full in six days."

That kind of success isn't limited to growers in warm winter climates like Florida. Across the country consumers are signing up in record numbers.

There are 2,500 CSAs and the movement is growing, with subscriber numbers in the tens of thousands.

"People will just really want that connection to know where their food comes from," said professor Jim Hanson, an agricultural economist at the University of Maryland.

Hanson says the popularity is, in part, an outgrowth of food scares - like salmonella linked to spinach two years ago, to jalapenos last year and this year, peanut butter.

"For many of the people participating in CSAs, this is becomes like health care, it becomes like an education," Hanson said. "Quality food is just a core necessity for their family."

Customers get to try foods they wouldn't normally buy at the grocery store, and they get to know the person who's growing it.

"I don't have to go into the store and wonder, 'Ok, where did this come from? How many airplane trips did this package of lettuce take?'" said CSA participant Scott Kisker.

There is a different kind of risk involved - if the farmer has a bad season, the customer still has to pay.

"I should be taking care of my customers with good harvests. I'm not always perfect at it, by any means. 2007, the drought of 2007 definitely reminded me of how imperfect I was," said Brett Grohsgale of Even'star Organic Farm.

Even so, growers like Grohsgale have a waiting list to join every year.

"There are so many more people who want to buy local than there are farms willing to deliver," he said.

So Nancy Roe is already plotting what she'll grow next year.