Recently, I read that Community Supported Agriculture supports only a small minority of families in the States. And that CSA memberships are declining. The reason, I believe, is largely due to lack of choice. With competition from Blue Apron and other meal delivery services and with the convenience of grocery stores, why bother with a CSA? Especially when you find all of that (often strange) produce overwhelming (Confessions of a Community Supported Agriculture Failure)?
As many of you know, we sell our produce primarily through our Community Supported Agriculture program (CSA). And, of course, I believe there are plenty of reasons to join. That is IF you’re up for trying new foods, and IF you like to cook fresh veggies, and IF you don’t mind passing along or composting what you don’t end up using. Even beyond that, it is a beautiful way to connect directly to where your food came from. And I welcome farm visits and love when people offer to help out or want to become involved in some way. Our mission after all is to build community through healthy eating, healing work, and sustainable agriculture.
The CSA concept was brought to the States in the mid 1980s. Rooted in cooperation and partnership, the CSA model connects people, it networks farmers, and it reunites community members not only with the farmers who grow their food but also with the practice of eating in season. I started the CSA here at Amazing Heart Farm in 2009, directly after I graduated from Harvard Divinity School. Something that I thought about frequently while at Harvard was the importance of setting down roots and of really coming to know and to love a place, a community – and by community I mean our neighbors as well as our local watersheds, and foodsheds. Having a sustained commitment to one place means that we’re responsible for that place. And if everyone cares about and for where they are, I think that our relationships with each other and with the earth would be much healthier.
I believe that Community Supported Agriculture is one tool that we have to help make our communities whole again. Because big agriculture is unsustainable. As our population continues to grow, as the demand for healthy food increases and as we continue to face the consequences of climate change, our communities need to be strong and resilient. Small scale, natural farming is adaptive and climate-resilient and if we help them to thrive, Community Supported Agriculture programs can be a powerful piece of this resilience.
I’d love to hear from you – how can we help CSA programs thrive? If you’re a member of a CSA, what do you like or not like about it? What keeps you coming back? Or if you are no longer a member, why did you leave?
Enjoy these last days of August…