In line with the 'granola conservatives' mentioned in the article below, I would like to talk about what my family will be eating (and freezing and canning, Deus volante) this summer. We purchased a share in a local co-operative of small farmers. We had been trying to get to the farmer's market weekly, but were not always able to. I also haven't figured out how to grow stuff in this northern New England climate. My garden bed is currently beneath 2 feet of accumulated snow, and more is falling. In California, by now, I would be harvesting early spring veges! anyhow, here is a brief description of just what CSA is.
WHAT IS COMMUNITY SUPPORTED AGRICULTURE (CSA)?
CSA is a relationship of mutual support and commitment between local farmers and community members who pay the farmer an annual membership fee to cover the production costs of the farm. In turn, members receive a weekly share of the harvest during the local growing season. The arrangement guarantees the farmer financial support and enables many small- to moderate-scale organic family farms to remain in business. Ultimately, CSA creates "agriculture-supported communities" where members receive a wide variety of foods harvested at their peak of ripeness, flavor and vitamin and mineral content.
... the goals of CSA support a sustainable agriculture system which . . .
provides farmers with direct outlets for farm products and ensures fair compensation
encourages proper land stewardship by supporting farmers in transition toward low or no chemical inputs
strengthens local economies by keeping food dollars in local communities
directly links producers with consumers allowing people to have a personal connection with their food and the land on which it was produced
makes nutritious, affordable, wholesome foods accessible and widely available to community members.
There are many kinds of CSA. All include payment in advance at an agreed upon price. In some, members of the community purchase a "share" of the anticipated harvest, while in others they sign up for a predetermined amount of produce over the course of the season. In most cases, this commitment implies a willingness to share with the farmer both the bounty from the land and at least some of the risks involved with production.
In return for fair and guaranteed compensation, consumers receive a variety of freshly picked, (usually organic) vegetables grown and distributed in an economically viable and ecologically responsible manner. Some farms also offer fruit, herbs, flowers and other products. In this way, farmers and members become partners in the production, distribution and consumption of locally grown food.