Saturday, December 1, 2007

Be a Locavore and Get in on Community Supported Agriculture, CSA

After reading the book The Omnivore's Dilemma, I decided that I want to be more locavorous so on Thursday night I went to an event at my library called "CSA 101: Everything you wanted to know about Community Supported Agriculture."

Presenting were the four CSA farms that make drop-offs at the Chicago farmers' market near my house, with each farmer talking a little bit about the benefits of CSA's as well as the details of their own CSA subscriptions.

What Did I Learn?
Here are some of the coolest things I gathered from the evening:

  • The farms offer a box of vegetables that comes straight from their farm to you. This means that the veggies are not packed in plastic during transport as is typical with non-local produce.
  • Most of the farms that presented are certified organic or expecting to get their certification this year.
  • They use practices such as crop rotation and strategic planting to avoid the need for fertizers and pesticides.
  • Most of them expect to sell out of shares soon. One farmer only had three shares left as of the meeting.
  • The farms are entirely transparent and encourage people to visit their farms (and help out if they want).
  • CSAs allow the consumers to shoulder some of the farmers' risk, making it more feasible for farmers to grow food crops in areas with more volatile climates.
The event was great because, not only did I get to learn all about CSAs, I also got to meet the actual farmers that would be growing my food next year. Now I just have to decide which CSA I'm going to go with.

The Presenters
The farms that presented were
Mike and Clare's Organic Farm, Red Tail Farm, Montalbano Farms, and Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm.

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What is a CSA?
Here's a definition from LocalHarvest.org.

"A CSA (for Community Supported Agriculture) is a way for the food buying public to create a relationship with a farm and to receive a weekly basket of produce. By making a financial commitment to a farm, people become members of the CSA. Most CSA farmers prefer that members pay for the season up-front, but some farmers will accept weekly or monthly payments. Some CSAs also require that members work a small number of hours on the farm during the growing season.

A CSA season typically runs from late spring through early fall. The number of CSAs in the United States was estimated at 50 in 1990, and has since grown to over 1000."

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The Word "Locavore"
Locavore was named 2007's Word of the Year by the New Oxford English Dictionary. Here's a definition.

3 comments:

What is Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm? said...

Hello,

This is Jody from Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm. I'm glad you enjoyed and learned from the open house on Thursday.

If you're a meat eater, Cedar Valley Sustainable is an excellent choice (and the only meat CSA in the Logan neighborhood). Also, not fully explained at the presentation, Mike and Clare's Farm will be growing on land at Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm.

Mike and Clare are going into their second year of vegetable CSA, and they will be able to draw on our five seasons of experience and expertise in growing and delivering boxes of fresh, healthy veggies.

All the farmers at the presentation are great, I just wanted to make an extra plug for Cedar Valley Sustainable and Mike and Clare's Farm.

Best,

Jody Osmund
Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm

LifeLessPlastic said...

Jody, thanks so much for your comment. I really enjoyed the presentation at the library and am looking forward to joining a CSA and getting lots of tasty veggies next spring and summer. In terms of your meat CSA, that also sounded pretty awesome, although it would be too much me for me to make use of. Still, I'll be sure to mention it to my family in case they're interested. We'll see what they say.

What is Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm? said...

LifeLessPlastic,

Your blog is a great way to get ordinary people thinking and acting about ways to make our planet more sustainable. Education is a large part of our mission at Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm (it also is a marketing tool).

If you would like to schedule a presentation about sustainable farming for a church group or civic organization (or a group of like minded friends), please contact us for scheduling details.

Best,

Jody Osmund
Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm