Green tip for week #48 — Week of March 29, 2009

Join a local food co-op or CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program

If you haven’t already heard much about Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) yet, you will.  Despite the fact that our country and our world have become a very globalized and “the world is flat” economy, the concept of shipping produce from one country to the next and trucking tomatoes from state to state is far more destructive to our ecosystem than first obtaining the food resources you can from the local region you live in.  There is a resurgence of family farms, individual efforts to grow your own food, and communities or individuals who are growing organic produce.  Support of these farms and programs can be a small and easy way to support sustainability.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is typically a community of people with a shared goal — to support a farm operation in such a way as to make it essentially the community’s farm.  This may mean direct ownership in the farm by having each CSA owner or member purchase stock or membership interests in a coop or LLC, or it could simply be a pledge to support the farm with financial resources, ensuring everything grown at the farm is purchased, or other support from the members.  Many of the models involve a shared risk/reward by the members of the CSA, where the shareholders absorb costs of farm or garden operation, while receiving shares of the farm or garden’s crops or produce during the growing season.

This type of member-driven or member-supported community enterprise not only creates interconnection within the community that it is formed, but it provides an invaluable support structure for the farm, helps encourage more sustainable growing practices, and fosters local self-reliance.  All of this contributes in a very significant and tangible way to environmental stewardship, conservation of resources, and “green” thinking.

One of the tangible benefits for members or shareholders of a CSA is fresh, bountiful supplies of whatever produce or crops that farm or garden produces, as each is at its growing and harvesting season.  Becoming a member of a CSA can enable you to get more local, fresh, and healthy produce than you may otherwise have access to.  Sometimes the quantity of food you receive as a member or shareholder can be based upon how much stake you purchase, but you can always get a large share and use this as an opportunity to share with your family and friends, in turn helping them learn about CSA.

If you are looking for a CSA or Community Supported Agriculture farm in your local area, there are several resources you can use, listed below:

  • Local Harvest is an excellent resource for learning about and finding CSAs — find more information about Local Harvest here: http://www.localharvest.org/csa/
  • Rodale Institute has a farm locator you can use to find CSAs or even farms that sell produce direct to consumers or restaurants (choose CSA in the “market type” section and pick your state in the pull-down menu for state): http://www.rodaleinstitute.org/farm_locator
  • The Eat Well Guide has resources for finding local, sustainable, and organic food by area/region, here: http://www.eatwellguide.org/

For a general resource, the United States Department of Agriculture has a section on CSAs, here:  http://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/pubs/csa/csa.shtml

This week, in April, we should all be thinking about spring, being outside, and enjoying the outdoors.  As you start planning your summer and think about efforts you can make to be more environmentally responsible this year than last, consider investing in or joining a CSA.

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