Thursday, February 28, 2008

In Which I Share Some Awesome News

While looking up Trader Joe's, I came across a farm in the area that does CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) subscriptions. This article from says it best (if you don't' feel like reading the whole article, read the words in red for a quick summary):

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a growing movement
which provides people with the means to regain control over the
origin and handling of their food. It simplifies the long chain of
events that brings food from our modern agricultural system to
the consumer--events that decrease the food's nutritional value,
contaminate it with chemicals, and pad the pockets of middlemen.
Based on the principle that the consumer and the farmer should
know each other, CSA has been practiced in Europe and Japan
for 30 years and came to the U.S. in 1985. There are an estimated
400 to 600 CSA farms across the U.S. People become a part of a
CSA project by paying in advance to support a farm for a season.
In return, the shareholders receive one share of whatever the
farm has ready to harvest each week of a 20 week growing season.
Farmers agree to meet the production goals to the best of their
ability and the members agree to pay the costs of production,
regardless of the actual harvest. The advantage to the consumer
is that the CSA farm provides you with high quality, super-fresh
organic produce which is impossible to find in the supermarket.
CSA also gives non-farmers a chance to get more involved in
producing and distributing their own food. Farms sponsor tours,
workdays, and harvest festivals to bring shareholders out to the
farm. CSA farms also often ask shareholders to help deliver shares,
sponsor drop-off sites, manage shareholder lists, write newsletters, etc.
Shareholders learn how a farm works, discover the relationship
between growing food and the environment, and see the true
costs of food production. By sharing the risks as well as the
benefits and responsibilities, interdependence between the
consumer and the farmer is restored. CSA farmers are freed
from the time constraints of marketing their produce, because
they already have a guaranteed distribution network.
Typically, a farmer takes out loans at the beginning of the
growing season to purchase seed, fertilizer, herbicides and
pesticides, and to pay crop insurance premiums in case a crop f
ails. A high proportion of a farmer's earnings goes to pay
interest on debt. On a CSA farm there is no need for any of this.
The farmer gets money up front from the shareholders, allowing
the farmer to focus on raising crops. In addition, small farming
methods (such as companion planting) eliminates the need for
pesticides, herbicides, and highly specialized heavy equipment.
No marketing expense, no hassle, no middlemen and the
opportunity to focus on what the farmer does best: grow food.
While spending money for vegetables that are not even planted
yet may be difficult for some, membership is generally a
bargain in the long run. CSA saves shareholders 30% to 50%
over purchasing organic food in a supermarket. Each week
during the harvest season, members receive an interesting
variety of the freshest possible produce. Since most CSA
farms use organic growing techniques, members' concerns
over chemical residues is alleviated. In all operations, pest
control, tillage, and fertilization are viewed according to their
effect on the environment. The land is treated with the respect it deserves.
The farm I am interested in doing this through is organic, so no pesticides are used. Also, they have eggs and chickens available for purchase from free range humanely treated chickens, which is awesome. We are starting with the summer share program, which will be $27 a week (paid ahead of time) for a small share of veggies and fruit. Here is an example vegetable share:
1 head Cauliflower
1 pound Green Beans
1 pound Tomatoes
1 bunch Carrots
1 bunch Sweet Onions
& Choice of 4 Items:
Cucumbers, Peppers, Basil, Summer Squash, Dill, Lettuce, Beets, Swiss Chard, Radicchio, Purslane, Squash Blossoms
That's a WEEK'S share. That alone is worth the $17 that is the veggie portion of the cost.
BUT!!! and this is totally exciting to me, subscribers get FREE cut flowers(!!!!) each week, UNLIMITED U-pick peas and beans, and a free pumpkin in October! SO TOTALLY worth less than twenty dollars a week. Going directly to the farm means we get to substitute items if we wish, can buy fresh eggs, and see where our food is coming from! This is important to me, that Kaia sees the whole cycle, and gains an appreciation for fresh, healthy food.
Another benefit, though not a direct one to us, is that we are supporting a local farm. This means less environmental damage, which as you know, I am working toward. Buying local, in season food means you aren't supporting genetic engineering, and (this is direct) your food TASTES BETTER. It gets to you faster, MUCH fresher, and is grown and harvested in it's natural cycle. Also, you aren't paying for shipping the food across several states, which costs money, time, and pollution! ok, stepping off my soapbox.
I am totally excited about this, can you tell?

1 comment:

Carol Chen Lord said...

I just noticed that I am the last one in your friend list, only 50% while everybody else got a 70.... Well, at least that makes me SPECIAL. LOL.