Why Join?

Why Join?

 

Ask Not What Your CSA Can Do For You, Ask What YOU Can Do For Your CSA

As you are probably aware, people all over the country are beginning to grow at least some of their own food. If not, then they are looking for a place to purchase it locally. It’s possible that you are one of those people. Perhaps you are already purchase some of your food at a local farmer’s market. Or maybe you are already a member of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Maybe you are considering joining a CSA in your area. If you haven’t, maybe you should.

What if you were given the responsibility to oversee the production of your own food from seed to harvest to your plate? Soil, water, sunshine, a little weeding, a little bug control. Sounds simple. Being a part of a CSA gives an individual or family the opportunity to do just that. Why? Peace of mind about what’s in your food. Is that worth the effort? We think so.

Being a member of a CSA is not for everyone, but for many it can be the answer to several dilemmas: like eating more healthfully, eating organically, supporting your local economy or perhaps you just like the idea of being more involved in where your food comes from. Briefly, Community Supported Agriculture is exactly what it sounds like: the community supports the farm up front sharing both the bounty of a fabulous harvest or the risk of crop failure or less than perfect produce. Growing organically is very labor intensive. We hope that you will be the kind of person to recognize the benefit and wisdom of sharing in the efforts. People working together to assure the safety of the food we eat.

We are going to share with you some things that we’ve learned that will help you be a great CSA member. The most important thing you can do for your farmer is determine whether being a member of a CSA is really right for you and your family. You will love being part of a CSA if you have the time to cook and like cooking and preparing meals and are willing to experiment with new ingredients and recipes and you are okay with occasionally getting something in your box of which you aren't particularly fond then you should find a CSA and join it!  

People don’t become farmers to get rich, but a business has to make money. The community part of the CSA is essential. You can imagine how difficult that is with only one person responsible for the majority of farm tasks. He or she wears many hats in the course of a day or week. This is the short list in no particular order of importance because it’s all important: Needless to say many farm chores are not back breaking but rather time consuming. Help with the minutia will allow the farmer time for the many other jobs he or she needs to get to like: Field preparation, planting, weeding, construction, mechanical repair and maintenance, welding, irrigation, animal care and feeding, troubleshooter, soil scientist, saving seed, harvesting, washing, storing, preserving, making share baskets on distribution days, pruning, bug control, marketing, farm tours, cooking and unusual vegetable expert, human relations, watering, farmer’s market, finding resources, purchasing agent, composting, scheduling, greenhouse maintenance, seeding flats. Needless to say, volunteers are essential. We often have folks ask us if there is anything for them to do on the farm. We have to laugh a bit at that. There’s always something to do. We understand how busy folks are and we appreciate and notice every single contribution of time our members make.

Some members choose to contribute with money or other donations rather than actual farm labor. We use this extra money to pay for help. Many people are just too busy and others feel they are not physically able to contribute – though we do have jobs that most everyone can do. Another amazing contribution are resources: those we ask for-- like leaves in the fall, and those we don’t - like old tractor implements and a pot belly stove to heat our greenhouse. One of our members is currently hatching some guinea eggs for us! We’ve also had members gift us personally with dinner invitations, canned goods, cookies! Your words of gratitude and encouragement are the best contributions of all.

In addition to simply working alongside us when they’re able, there are many other ways that a member can support the farm and us. One thing is just showing up to get your share. A lot of time and effort goes into harvesting and preparing share baskets. If you can’t make it, let your farmer know or better yet, send a friend. The food you share with your friend or neighbor might cause them to partner with us in the future. Tell everyone. If your CSA has room to grow, spread the word. You are the best advertisement for your CSA. All CSAs have some kind of box or basket that they pack the share in each week and need back the next. Return them in good condition each week. This helps keep costs down for the farm.

Another key is to teach your kids. Farms can be fabulous fun, but they can also be dangerous. Kids can get hurt or accidently hurt or endanger farm animals or even the vegetables.

In summary:

· Make sure CSA suits your lifestyle

· Show up and get your share (or send a friend)

· Bring your box or basket back clean and in good condition

· Help out on the farm as often as you can

· Promote your farm and CSA with everyone you know          

The best part of a community farm is the long term relationships that grow over the years. Enjoying the good times together and encouraging each other through bad. We wouldn’t change anything about those friendships. The beauty of a garden is something that everyone should enjoy. The sights and smells and feel of growing herbs and flowers. Not to mention there are snacks everywhere. Nothing tastes like a carrot pulled straight from the ground or a tomato still warm from the sun. In closing we still like in the greatest country in the world.

But we need to learn to feed ourselves locally. We have a saying on the farm – not original to us – but we’ve adopted it: Pay your farmer or pay your doctor.   Make time to cook. When you and your family are part of growing your food, preparing it – every meal becomes a celebration.

 

From Farmer Bryan's Ted Talk