Friday, December 18, 2009

ZEITGEIST: Organic Farming - Small and Local

By F. Tadesse

I am convinced that truly organic farming can be done better by smaller farms.The bigger the farm is the more likely that the farm has to resort to methods that are not organic and environmentally sustainable. The sheer size of the farm demands it. Many people must feel the same way because CSAs, (community supported agriculture) are becoming very popular.

What are CSAs? CSA's are farms where the surrounding community is directly involved with the growing of food. People become members of a CSA and pay membership fee and for that they get weekly seasonal vegetables and fruits throughout the growing season.

Members share the risk that is involved in farming such as not getting good crop because of bad weather or blight. CSA were first created about 20 years ago in the 80s to practice farming in an ecologically balanced manner.These farms use Organic or biodynamic farming methods. There are about 2,500 CSAs throughout the US according to LocalHarvest, an organic and local food website. The idea for this kind of farming came from Europe. Here in the US these farms were first started in the North east and now has spread to the West Coast. In some parts of the country there are not enough of these farms to keep up with the demand (information source the USDA).

There are many advantages for both the farmer and the members to this kind of community farming. For the farmer he gets to spend less time marketing and gets to sell his products before his long 16 hour days in the field starts. He has enough cash flow to run things smoothly. Farming risks are shared with the community.
For the CSA members it is getting the freshest, in season, local, and organic foods. Reconnecting to the land and knowing where their food comes from is another. Getting to know the farmer who grows yo food is really wonderful. Another unexpected benefit is kids seem to like eating vegetables from these farms that they would not eat if bought from a supermarket..

So with community supported agriculture people gain back sense of real community, that sense of connection to each other and to that of the land and our stewardship of the environment.

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