Community Shared Agriculture (CSA)
The term ‘community supported agriculture’ was coined in the late 1980s after farmers, Trauger Groh and Jan Vander Tuin brought the concept to New England from biodynamic farms in Europe. Separately and unbeknownst to the other they each teamed up with farmers and communities in the US the create shared farms in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
These farmers were inspired by similar arrangements employed by farms in Europe and envisioned this model as a way for eaters to participate directly in the growing of their food by making a pre-season commitment to a particular farm. In exchange for investing in the CSA, each eater would receive a weekly share of the harvest.
As Natasha Bowens points out in this article, a model similar to CSA, called Clientele Membership Clubs, was developed in Alabama by Dr. Booker T. Whatley as early as the 1960s.
Similarly, a model called 'teikei' (meaning food with a face) was initiated in Japan. In the 1950s and 60s in Japan, agricultural policy shifted from small-scale, self-reliant farms to increasing industrialization and reliance on chemical inputs. In the early 1970s, as a reaction to these trends, Japanese eaters, concerned about food safety and deterioration of communities, began to organize consumer co-operatives and sought out farmers to supply them directly with organic food.
Today, the CSA model has taken many different forms to suit the local farmers and the communities the model serves. However, the connection between farmers, eaters and the land remains essential.
Root Radical CSA was initiated in fall 2006 with our first growing
season in 2007. Emily Dowling is the main CSA farmer. She is passionate about the CSA model because it encourages good farming practices and it brings people together to enjoy great tasting, healthy food.
At Root Radical we grow an assortment of organic vegetables
in our 2 acre outdoor garden and in our 2300 square foot greenhouse. For 24 weeks from June until mid-November, we supply
produce to approximately 225 households in Kingston area.
For more information about membership follow this
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photo credit: Sara Emery
Participatory food justice: Beyond simply
supporting a local farmer! We believe that farmers and eaters are partners
in building a local, healthy, sustainable food system. The CSA model
is about all of us getting involved in the production of – and
decision making about – our food. If there is a problem with the
way our food is being grown, then eaters and farmers alike must work
together to improve the situation. Through CSA we reclaim control of
the food system and together work towards actualizing our hopes and dreams.
Sane ecology: If we expect to eat well in
the future, we must act appropriately now and care for the land that
feeds us. That means not just eliminating the use of pesticides and herbicides but also
building the soil in the garden and providing sufficient wild spaces
for beneficial organisms.
Away from oil dependence: Energy costs will continue to rise as demand permanently outstrips supply in the future. Meanwhile we can see that fossil fuel use has terrible effects on air quality and climate change. As local producers, we aim to use as little fossil fuel energy as possible.
Needs based and open accounting: Our share
price is calculated based on a budget that includes all costs of production.
While striving to maintain optimal share value for our members, we aim to also include all the
social and environmental costs in our price. The budget and other financial
statements are shared with the members each winter.
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