BIG RAPIDS \u2014 Spring is just around the corner. With the change of seasons, many area residents may begin to think about getting something green growing. For area Community Supported Agriculture groups, the work is already beginning. Members of a CSA contribute a designated amount of money to a farm before the beginning of the growing season and receive shares of the harvest every week for several months. CSAs come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but \u201cThe idea that people want to know their farm, to know their farmer and want to know how their food is grown is becoming entrenched,\u201d said John Ward, of Ward Vegetables, a local CSA. \u201cThe CSA is real beautiful business model for the farmer because the member makes their investment all at once and then they are paid up for the season,\u201d he said. \u201cThe farmers can get seeds and some of the things they need to get started for the year.\u2019\u201d For the consumer, a \u201cmember\u201d of the farm, the advantage is not spending money on groceries every week while receiving a bounty of fresh and delicious local produce, Ward said. \u201cIt\u2019s a cool model because it helps both parties out,\u201d he said. Ward Vegetables specializes in greens, including a number already growing in a hoop house, a movable greenhouse allowing farmers an early start on cold weather crops. The CSA encourages members to interact with each other and the farm. It\u2019s a really fun shopping experience, Ward said. \u201cSome people like to wander around the farm, take a look at what is growing, ask some questions or talk recipes,\u201d he said. \u201cIt\u2019s about food and taking ownership of what you\u2019re putting in your body.\u201d CSAs often offer incentive programs to help ensure the farmers have the money they need as early as possible, said Chris Swier, of the Swier Family Farm, which also offers a CSA program. \u201cThe sooner people sign up the easier it is for me to make the decisions and get started,\u201d he said. \u201cThe idea with CSAs is to get your marketing squared away early in the year and just get busy with the work of growing. It\u2019s less stress and more productive if you can get people signed up sooner.\u201d Some groups offer early sign-up discounts. Instead of changing prices, the Swier CSA is offering an edible incentive to anyone who signs up before March 20. \u201cWe decided instead to incentivize people by offering them a mushroom sampler,\u201d he said. \u201cWe\u2019ve already had a couple people ask if we could offer anything else because they don\u2019t like mushrooms, and we\u2019ve worked to set up something different, like eggs.\u201d Hearty Harvest is another area CSA. They are set apart from other organizations by the variety of fresh fruit included in their boxes, which range from a 2-person to a Big Family share large enough for four to eight, according to Natalie Pennington, Hearty Harvest store manager. \u201cWe have heard from a lot of our members that our CSA is one of the only ones around with a constant selection of fruit,\u201d she said. \u201cWe are primarily a vegetable farm, so we work other farms to get our fruit. We work with the local Amish orchard for the majority of the fruits, but we also work with a number of other area orchards.\u201d Hearty Harvest also recently added a deluxe option including honey, eggs and extra fruit, and the farm is looking to offer a selection of meats. \u201cIn the future, we are looking at adding pork, lamb and beef options, but we haven\u2019t added them yet,\u201d Pennington said. In partnership with Diversity Farms, LeeAnn\u2019s Flowers and Vegetables is another option for area residents who wish to join a CSA. Like Hearty Harvest, this CSA has a partnership with Amish farmers to provide fruits as well as vegetables. \u201cWe pre-box member\u2019s shares each week of fruits and vegetables, when they come to pick them up they are welcome to trade out any vegetables they don\u2019t want. They get a predetermined box originally but they don\u2019t have to take everything,\u201d said LeeAnn LeGree. \u201cWe don\u2019t do a lot of unusual vegetables. We tried that in the beginning, but a lot of people in the area like to stay in their comfort zone in what they want to prepare and eat.\u201d Most of the CSAs offer recipes and tips for cooking some of their less well-known offerings, Ward said. \u201cI try to get people to try things once or twice,\u201d he said. \u201cThings like beets, for example. As a kid, you get an idea of what a beet is supposed to taste like, but if you roast in on a grill you get a totally different flavor. You could also try stir-frying them along with the beet greens.\u201d Anyone interested in joining a CSA can search for Ward Vegetables, Swier Family Farm, LeeAnn\u2019s Flowers and Vegetables or Hearty Harvest on Facebook or the Internet for more information.