Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Philosophy of Community Supported Agriculture

The following text is taken from the book, Backyard Market Gardening by Andy Lee and Patricia Foreman. This is why we believe in the CSA model.

Community Supported Agriculture has a philosophy of socially and ecologically responsible agriculture. The farmers and the shareholders feel a need to treat the earth and ourselves in a user friendly fashion. We do not want to use chemicals or intensive tilling practices that will degenerate the soil. Instead, wherever possible, we want to use organic and biodynamic practices that will enrich the soil and, in turn, enrich our own lives.

In addition, we have a genuine desire to grow food for our fellow humankind. We want to know personally the people who are eating the produce we raise. The conventional market place does not have an established niche for this class of agricultural entrepreneur, so we look to the Community Supported Farm for a model of social sustainability.
In turn, the consumer shareholders have the opportunity to know that farmer who produces their food. They can share in the regeneration of the earth and their bodies through the raising and consumption of naturally grown produce. These members often come to feel that the farm is “theirs”. They enjoy coming to the farm for field days and to help with intensive planting and harvesting chores. They look forward to coming together socially in a relaxed atmosphere, close to nature and their families and friends.

To understand Community Supported Agriculture we must first recognize that the conventional food industry doesn’t give a hoot about the family farmer or the consumer. Conventional agriculture practices have absolutely driven small-scale farmers to a cash crop monoculture. To pay back borrowed capital, farmers have to use high performance practices, often at the expense of their land, health, and quality of life.
It is important for the potential community farmer to diversify all capitalization and crop risk over the numbers of a committed consumer group. In conventional models the farmer has always born the total risk. With membership gardening and CSA farming the consumers are accepting part of that risk.

The result of this cooperation of farmer and consumer in the CSA model is that everyone has the satisfaction of becoming part of the solution. They no longer have to remain part of the problem. It brings the community back to farming, and the farmer back to the community. The public needs to know where their food comes from and the amount of work, knowledge, and capital investment it takes to be a farmer today. The farmers need to know that someone cares, and is willing to support them.

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