Day’s Verse:
For the needy will not always be forgotten,
Nor the hope of the afflicted perish forever.

Psalm 9:18
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Speaking of food — which apparently lots of us like to do — I’ve mentioned the Nourse Farm before, back in August when I rhapsodized about their fresh berries.

At the time I saw that they offer community supported agriculture (CSA) shares at the beginning of the growing season each year. The idea is to pay a big chunk of cash to a local farm up front, and then over the course of the season you get food that the farm grows. The benefit is that, as their web site explains, “The share holder benefits from a constant supply of locally grown produce offered weekly, ripe and fresh.” Additionally, “Buying food locally keeps small farms economically viable, keeps land in agricultural production, and preserves open space.” I particularly like the Nourse Farm CSA program because, according to their web site, their “produce is naturally grown. For a few crops that is not feasible. For these particular crops we use an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program. That means we utilize many strategies to avoid or solve a pest problem. In this program we scout the fields for insects and disease, we seek protection with beneficial insects and biological controls, we use disease resistant varieties, and bug-excluding row covers.” This means environmentally-friendly food from a nearby source — what a great idea!

So, to sum up, paying $450 now:

  • Provides us with the most delicious produce we can find for 20 weeks of the year;
  • Supports local farmers and the local economy;
  • Reduces our carbon footprint by cutting down the mileage our food travels to reach us; and
  • Provides us with high-quality organic food* from a trustworthy source.

CSA is, in my humble opinion, one of the prime ways a person can reduce her carbon footprint, eat healthy, and support local agriculture all in one fell swoop. The risk, however, is that the farm might have a bad year and you could lose some or all of your investment. To me, though, it’s well worth the risk. We wrote and mailed the check tonight. No turning back now! It feels like a huge shift in the way we think about our food. Knowing where your food came from, even meeting the people who raised it, is unusual but healthy. And I can tell you right now that our eating habits will become significantly more creative, since in addition to delicious familiar berries and produce, we could very well end up with lots of foods we never normally choose or have never even heard of — swiss chard, currants, romano beans, bok choy, fava beans, zucchini, wax beans, purple beans, eggplant, and cauliflower, to pick a few randomly off the list. Not only does CSA have all those other benefits, but I suspect our palates will undergo some significant expansion as well.

If you think CSA sounds interesting, I suggest you check out the USDA CSA page, Local Harvest, and, for a lighthearted but rigorous approach to it all, this Ask Umbra on Grist.org.

* Some people think that buying local is better for the environment than buying long-distance organic.

KF quality

2 thoughts on “Supporting Community Agriculture

  1. Two months or so ago we started getting a bi-weekly delivery of organic and mostly local fruits and veges from a local outfit called New Roots Organics. They include a recipe sheet each time to help us non-vegephiles figure out something to do with kale or eggplant or Swiss chard, for example. It’s a different approach than supporting a particular farm but still better for us and the environment. (If you get Ian to eat veges I will be very impressed!)

  2. Deborah,

    I think that they send out recipes along with their veggies, like your group does, to help out those of us who wouldn’t know Swiss chard if it smacked us in the face.

    Ian’s willing to help eat all these veggies we’ve committed to, so it’s going to be an interesting summer, food-wise… 🙂

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