CSA= Community Supported Agriculture
Location: Angelic Organics, Caledonia, IL
Featuring: Farmer John Peterson
CSA = community supported agriculture = a mutually sustaining relationship between the consumer (shareholder) and the farmer whereby each looks out for the other’s needs and well-being + “Consumer and Producer join hands and stand face-to-face in a flux of self-interest and empathy” – John Peterson
Twenty years ago John started a CSA at Angelic Organics. It saved his farm's life. Before then, he relied on wholesaling, farmers markets and hope. First, a couple in Chicago contacted him after they found his farm’s name on a bag of onions. Then a surge of members came after the Chicago Reader ran a cover story about CSAs and mentioned Angelic Organics (a week later he had over two hundred new members). “Think of the farm as a table,” John says. “Our members and farmworkers eat from the same table. They engage in a celebration and a sacrament.”
Each year John has his CSA shareholders sign their annual contract. It say: “I understand that the farm workers will do their best to provide all they have promised, and I agree to excuse them for the mishaps that might trip them up.” Each Wednesday morning twenty employees gather to fill 1100 boxes. A box, which contains 9 to 10 vegetables and an herb or two, is delivered each week for 20 weeks.
Community Supported Agriculture=CSA
Location: Cure Organic Farms, Boulder, CO
Featuring: Anne Cure
Buying a CSA membership means entering into partnership with a local farm. The member buys a subscription at the beginning of the season. This cash infusion allows the farmer to pay for seed, water, equipment and labor early season when farm expenses are high and farm income is low. In return the farm provides its members with a box of fresh picked seasonal produce each week. CSAs build community by reconnecting its members to the seasons and fostering relationships between members and the people who grow their food.
At Anne’s farm:
1.CSA subscribers choose between three box sizes
2. They directly engage farmers who can share the stories behind everything grown on the farm.
3. CSA members are free to create their own boxes, to choose their own produce.
4. If CSA members don’t like an item in their box (beets for example) they can exchange it for something else here.
“Our goal is not to grow food for the whole world. It’s to grow really good food for 175 families.”
I ask Anne Cure what led her to create CSA for 175 local families and she says, “There's nothing better than knowing whom you're growing your food for. That Alicia and Quentin love the fava beans. Mark and Anne who can’t wait for the San Marzanos. Or Oliver and Eli, who will eat these carrots before they leave the farm. We want to share the farm’s stories and create a place people feel a part of. When people learn about their food, how vegetables and animals are raised, they form a deeper relationship with the land. We commit to feeding as many families as our land can healthily provide for. This includes over a hundred varieties of vegetables and flowers grown during the year.”
Bean & Grain CSA
Location: The Seed Room, Lonesome Whistle Farm, Republic of Eugene, OR
Featuring: Jeff, Kasey and their cat Gracie Mae
(CSA = community supported agriculture)
Local consumers support the production of nutrient-dense staple crops like beans and grains grown on small to medium-sized farms by purchasing shares in a “CSB”. Each monthly share from December to May consists of approximately thirteen pounds of beans, whole grains, freshly milled flour, polenta and popcorn.
Jeff and Kasey believe that small, organic local farming is a tangible, daily direct action that can change the world. “As we relocalize the planet, we must rethink local production and consumption and grow first what our local community has in short supply.”
Growing rare bean and grain varieties preserves, improves and expands a community's seed and food diversity. Jeff and Kasey used to grow fresh vegetables for market, but after tiring of only selling half their harvest and giving away or composting the rest, they gravitated towards storage crops like garlic, potatoes, winter squash, beans and grains which could be sold year round. After they became interested in beans and grains, they discovered the Southern Willamette Valley Bean and Grain Project, which works to re-localize beans and grains across Oregon.