Friday, March 6, 2009

Why CSA?

As a multi-tasking type person, I sometimes get "hit" with thoughts that will surely perish from my mind if not written down at that moment. So, rather than cutting seed potatoes right now, I elected to share those thoughts in what seemed to be a season of insecurity and confusion in our fledgling project....(I wasn't sure I could continue to cut and type at the same time....volunteers welcome, bring a sharp knife.)

Saving the Small Farm
Small farms across the country are closing up by the hundreds, maybe more, year after year. Part of this is due to a fickle market. Cheaper, prettier food, and any food in any season, is often available to the food buyer who used to support the small, family, local farm, until they found a way to increase their bottom line for shareholders and give them strawberries in December, through large, factory and often foreign farms. Now, it is also true that this is not the only reason for the decline or demise of small farms, many simply close up and sell the land off to a subdivision developer or Super Wal Mart because none of the kids want to carry it on, or the growing government bureaucracy has put them out of business, but it can be argued that it is a large contributing factor. Sadly, the eaters are the ones paying the price with availability of less nutritious food - along with the disappearance of our farmland by the tens of thousands of acres a year. This in and of itself poses various threats to our environment and, ultimately, survival.

As stated in my initial letter to the many who inquire, Community Supported Agriculture is, in some cases, the ONLY way small farms can get up and running and stay in business. That is, in large part, why Community Supported Agriculture was nurtured in this country by pioneer Robyn Van En. She recognized the critical nature of preserving our small farm infrastructure and getting this good, life-giving food to anyone who desired it.
Such was the case for Eden’s start up - CSA was the only way it was going to happen. And that it was indeed a start up is something I try to make painfully clear in my initial contact with each and every one of the folks who continue to reply to my initial inquiry as to the interest of having local produce in the DFW area.

Of those initial 80+ people, most read that it was a start up and a bigger risk than they apparently wanted to partake in. And that is quite understandable. Without looking, I believe my letter stated that if you had a bit of the entrepreneurial spirit and wanted to get in on the ground floor of something that was sure to experience bumps in the road, then this CSA group may be for you.

When I state that CSA may not be for everyone, that is not meant to be an insult or to insinuate that a person is any less serious about their dedication to the cause of local food or small farms, etc. There are just several ways of supporting the causes we share an interest in. Directly relying on getting your food, or your income, from a farm is probably the riskiest of ways and those participating, both in the farming and in the eating, are very special people dedicated to selfless acts that result in the fortifying of themselves and their families; in the way of parents that feed, often on the fly, local, and the freshest around food, to themselves and their kids; as well as the farmers who choose this way of life – probably ranked up there among one of the most thankless jobs one can choose. However, some of us do choose it willingly- and gladly we are seeing a resurgence of city dwellers learning to farm – often giving up or reducing hours at, very well paying and often cushy, careers, for a quality of life for themselves and their families not usually found in a cubicle.

I invite you to read below the preview of the forward to a book I often suggest to people interested in local farming, Community Supported Agriculture and/or, local food.

I think that in come cases, CSA has become an abbreviation and the meaning behind it, has become lost. It is my sincere desire to help make local, healthy and safe food – or as my friend Farmer Brad calls it, “Righteous Food” - available to anyone in the community (extended as it may be), who so desires to seek it out by working however I can to preserve open land in the urban area I live in. Some may get theirs through paid shares to the farm’s harvest, some may work for their food, and others may receive it out of the generosity of others while others yet may only choose to purchase through a co-op or market days or a local restaurant that may serve it some day. But it is my passion, and just short of an obsession, that those who grow it and those who eat it be preserved - somehow - and CSA is indeed a good start. It is only through the dedicated and loyal support of the communities around the small farms, that this is possible. If we all continue to follow the way we've always done things, we'll keep going the way we've always gone.

I like how Dr. Gussow closes her forward, “if we all want to keep eating, we need to keep farmers in business; and if we want to keep farmers in business” ….., basically, she says, we collectively need to think outside of today’s way of thinking.
I couldn’t agree more, and have found overall, that I really enjoy this new feeling of community, love, support and caring that has begun, actually from the very start of this project, and will continue to grow as we all grow in relationship to one another in our community. That, and the good health that comes from all of this, is what it is all about.

Preview this book
Sharing the Harvest
By Elizabeth Henderson, Joan Dye (FRW) Gussow

Eat Your Food - Naturally!

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