Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I'm Dreaming of Fresh Organic Produce

When Rich and I travel, we love to shop at farmers' markets anywhere we happen to go, from the amazing Pike's Place Market in Seattle to the little local market we found in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia last summer. What an adventure and a treat to find freshly harvested fruits and veggies, homemade jams, jellies and honey, bread, pies, cheeses, and great surprises like the beautiful carved wood Lazy Susans we purchased in Nova Scotia. Living here, there's no good way to raise our own (other than the lettuce I mentioned in an earlier post!) and the grocery stores' produce is a bit lacking. Imagine my delight the other day when I received an email from a local person looking for at least 15 of us who were interested in receiving regular shipments of fresh produce from an organic farm in Washington! We immediately signed up and I was happy to hear today that we have more than enough interested folks. The costs and procedures are being discussed and we are hoping to soon be the regular recipients of a box of goodies. I'm crossing my fingers that the cost of shipping will not be prohibitive!

In the last year, I have read several books about eating locally, eating organic foods, eating foods in season, and so on. There's just not much we can grow here in our small duplex or rocky yard and we have talked about eventually living somewhere that allows us to have a good selection of local produce, and/or the capability of growing some of our own. I didn't have any IDEA that we could actually team up with a farm in Washington! How great is that??!

The farm we are hoping to use is called Full Circle Organic Farm. Check out their website at They are part of a Community Supported Agriculture Program, or CSA. Here's some info about CSAs from the USDA's website.

"Since our existence is primarily dependent on farming, we cannot entrust this essential activity solely to the farming population--just 2% of Americans. As farming becomes more and more remote from the life of the average person, it becomes less and less able to provide us with clean, healthy, lifegiving food or a clean, healthy, lifegiving environment. A small minority of farmers, laden with debt and overburdened with responsibility, cannot possibly meet the needs of all the people. More and more people are coming to recognize this, and they are becoming ready to share agricultural responsibilities with the active farmers." (1)

Community supported agriculture (CSA) is a new idea in farming, one that has been gaining momentum since its introduction to the United States from Europe in the mid-1980s. The CSA concept originated in the 1960s in Switzerland and Japan, where consumers interested in safe food and farmers seeking stable markets for their crops joined together in economic partnerships. Today, CSA farms in the U.S., known as CSAs, currently number more than 400. Most are located near urban centers in New England, the Mid-Atlantic states, and the Great Lakes region, with growing numbers in other areas, including the West Coast.

In basic terms, CSA consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community's farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production. Typically, members or "share-holders" of the farm or garden pledge in advance to cover the anticipated costs of the farm operation and farmer's salary. In return, they receive shares in the farm's bounty throughout the growing season, as well as satisfaction gained from reconnecting to the land and participating directly in food production. Members also share in the risks of farming, including poor harvests due to unfavorable weather or pests. By direct sales to community members, who have provided the farmer with working capital in advance, growers receive better prices for their crops, gain some financial security, and are relieved of much of the burden of marketing.

(1) 1) Trauger M. Groh and Steven S.H. McFadden, Farms of Tomorrow. Community Supported Farms, Farm Supported Communities. Kimberton, PA: Bio-Dynamic Farming and Gardening Association, 1990. p. 6