Food & Garden
Pg 8 - The Sunshine Express
2012 August
Tens Of Thousands Join CSAs
stakeholders than usual, resulting in a stronger
who eat the food they grow.
consumer-producer relationship. The core design
Advantages for consumers:
Community Supported Agriculture models grow
includes developing a cohesive consumer group
~ Eat ultra-fresh food, with all the flavor and vitamin
from age old traditions
that is willing to fund a whole season's budget in
Over the last 20 years, Community Supported
order to get quality foods.
~ Get exposed to new vegetables and new ways of
Agriculture (CSA) has become a popular way for
CSA theory purports that the more a farm embrac-
consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly
es whole-farm, whole-budget support, the more
~Usually get to visit the farm at least once a season.
from a farmer. Here are the basics: a farmer offers a
it can focus on quality and reduce the risk of food
~ Find that kids typically favor food from "their"
certain number of "shares" to the public. Typically
waste or financial loss.
farm, even veggies they've never been known to eat.
the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other
Because the Earth is a living being, the actions of
~ Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows
farm products may be included. Interested con-
every individual have an effect on the whole. The
their food and learn more about how food is grown
sumers purchase a share (aka a "membership" or
soil is the basis of all human life both now and
It's a simple enough idea, but its impact has been
a "subscription") and in return receive a box (bag,
in the future. Healthy soil means healthy food.
profound. Tens of thousands of families have joined
basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout
When no artificial fertilizers or pesticides are used,
CSAs, and in some areas of the country there is more
the farming season.
ground water pollution and toxic residues on food
demand than there are CSA farms to fill it. The gov-
This arrangement creates several rewards for both
are avoided. CSA gives families a chance to choose
ernment does not track CSAs, so there is no official
the farmer and the consumer. In brief...
how their food is grown.
count of how many CSAs there are in the US.
Advantages for farmers:
Eating locally grown, freshly harvested organic
CSA models grow from age old traditions of small
~ Get to spend time marketing the food early in the
food is the basis of a healthy diet. CSA offers an
scale food production: growers "sharing" freshly
year, before their 16 hour days in the field begin.
opportunity to reconnect with rhythms of nature
harvested foods directly with their local communi-
~ Receive payment early in the season, which helps
by eating foods in season. (Such a diet happens
ties, in rhythm with the seasons and in harmony
with the farm's cash flow.
naturally when a large portion of your food begins
with the Earth.
~ Have an opportunity to get to know the people
to come from a garden.) CSA provides a meaning-
agriculture began in the
ful and satisfying way to reunite with the Earth,
early 1960s in Germany,
nourishing and restoring spirit and community.
Switzerland and Japan
CSA farms promote more than just great produce,
as a response to concerns
they support committed and knowledgeable grow-
about food safety and the
ers and their families who share the environmental
urbanization of agricul-
and social concerns of their members. CSA farms
tural land. In the 1960s
offer learning experiences through tours, work-
groups of consumers
shops, and seasonal apprenticeships. In addition,
and farmers in Europe
working members help with garden work, food
formed cooperative part-
harvest and distribution (in trade for food as
nerships to fund farming
well as to learn more about horticulture or other
and pay the full costs of
gardening skills). Regular newsletters also share
ecologically sound and
seasonal happenings, current crops, and recipes to
socially equitable agricul-
help members use the produce they receive. CSA
ture. In Europe, many of
farms recognize the need for community involve-
the CSA style farms were
ment in local farm survival.
inspired by the economic
For a list of CSAs in your area, go online and visit
ideas of Rudolf Steiner
and experiments with
community agriculture
took place on farms us-
ing biodynamic agri-
culture. In 1965 moth-
ers in Japan who were
concerned about the rise
of imported food, the
loss of arable land, and
the migration of farm-
ers into cities started the
first CSA projects called
Teikei, in Japanese
CSAs generally focus on
the production of high
quality foods for a local
community, often using
organic or biodynamic
farming methods, and a
shared risk membership-
marketing structure. This
kind of farming oper-
ates with a much greater
degree of involvement of
consumers and other