Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Heide Castaneda


alternative agriculture, community supported agriculture, food production, nutrition, organic farming


Sweetwater Organic Community Farm is an organic farm and environmental education center located in Tampa, Florida. The farm employs the community supported agriculture (CSA) model, in which members pay a single fee before the growing season begins and receive a weekly or biweekly share of the ongoing harvest in return. Using multiple ethnographic methods, this research aimed to understand the daily operations at Sweetwater as well as the perceptions of staff and CSA members. Findings indicated that there were myriad perceived advantages of organic agriculture but also imposing challenges that needed to be overcome. Moreover, staff members acknowledged the challenges associated with the CSA model such as pleasing and educating members and, for members, having to pick up at designated times and locations. Still, staff members also noted countless benefits, including the opportunity to connect to your food, farmers, environment, and community. In surveys, CSA members indicated that they were overwhelmingly satisfied the CSA model and Sweetwater. Complexities were uncovered that are often overlooked in the literature and merit further exploration. Among these were the pressure on farmers that resulted from receiving payments upfront and the willingness of individuals to become members without understanding the CSA model. There is a need for more studies to longitudinally examine changes in social support, food system knowledge, and eating habits that may occur over the course of the growing season.