Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
Change a farmer’s life...and your own!
Like any serious South Coast home vegetable gardener, on or about mid-February, when spring first teases us with a few days of the sun shining just a little bit warmer, my excitement and anticipation of another year in the garden begins to take hold.
Ask anyone who’s got one and they’ll tell you- It’s a labor of love, but it’s lots of hard work and it gets very expensive. When the season is over and you realize those beautiful Brandy-wine tomatoes cost about $15 each.
For the truly obsessed, there’s no time for such trivial analyses such as cost-planning, for next year has already begun!
I have good news- there may actually be a better way. A way where a fallen farmer can still feel part of the sowing, growing and harvesting; a way where they can eat as though the garden was still steps from their door; a way where they will know that one particular week’s fresh harvest will not consist solely of rutabagas, parsnips, celery root and salsify.
The way is CSA.
Anyone who hasn’t been hiding in a root cellar for the past decade has been awash in the mantra of sustainability. It is so ubiquitous now it has become more background noise than call to arms.
Somewhere, the reality of local and sustainable got lost in the race to capitalize on the buzz.
You just can’t do local and sustainable everywhere in the world, but fortunately for us, you can with ease here in the South Coast.
CSA is many things to a farmer.
It’s revenue when there otherwise wouldn’t be any; it’s insurance against the upcoming year’s weather; it’s great advertising, it’s higher sale prices than could be achieved otherwise and it’s a big help in getting a good night’s sleep.
The single most expensive time of year for a farmer is the season of least revenue.
How a CSA can help.
CSA members become one-year virtual shareholders of whatever farm they choose. In return for an up-front payment in the late fall or winter, the customer receives a weekly share of produce for a defined period of time. Depending upon what that farm grows and/or raises, tit could be a 13-week CSA contract, or a 6-month commitment, or in the case of some of the new greenhouse-inside-of-a-greenhouse operations, a year-round deal.
There are other less tangible yet equally important benefits of joining a CSA program beyond finding fresh vegetables on your doorstep each week:
Health – Under the heading of “it goes without saying, but...” virtually all of the farms you might sign up for a CSA program with are either operating under biodynamic or organic farming practices, or increasingly, both.
Connectedness to the land –
Empathy – Blight, drought, infestation or too much rain. Any one of these can spell financial ruin for a farmer.
Spillover Effect – The simple act of joining a local farm’s CSA program can change your life. There’s no university study or scientific survey I can cite here to back that statement up, but it’s another one of those seemingly small “stop and smell the roses” steps that can be truly transformative.
Well, here you go.
My favorite source for all things farm for our region is the SEMAP (Southeastern Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership) website at www.SEMAPonline.org.
That site contains a comprehensive listing of South Coast farms, along with links to farm websites when they exist. Those farms offering CSA programs are clearly identified and you can contact them directly.
There are few things as simple which can have as profound an effect upon your life as joining a local farm’s CSA program. It’s good for you, for your family, for a farmer and for your community. It saves you money vs. growing your own and your participation may very well help save a farm.
CSA- It’s not just for hippies anymore.
read the entire article in South Coast Prime Time or online at http://issuu.com/coastalmags/docs/scpt_aprmay12