Monday, July 23, 2007

Community Supported Agriculture

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms have sprung up all across the country. Until recently, there wasn't one that serviced my own geographic area. But now there is! I am quite excited. Demand is already exceeding the amount the small farm can produce. This is heart warming. Maybe there is still hope for the small farmer. Organic, locally grown produce, dairy, eggs and even meat are more in demand than ever.

When people stop and really think about where their food comes from, the majority would not be able to answer. Most food travels over 1500 miles before it reaches the average table. In the past, people ate food that was grown near them. But that has changed so quickly. We've become disconnected from our food. It is great to be able to eat strawberries all year, due to the shipments from California, etc. But, as nice as that is, it is also a bit sad when we lose sight of the natural seasons of crops. My husband, who grew up in Mexico, always knew when, for instance, which fruit would be in season and would anticipate the dishes his mom would make when they became available. Maybe that hasn't completely been lost in this country, but it feels like we're coming close.

Now starting this Fall, thanks to CSA, I will have access to food that I know is fresh and local. If I were able to grow my own food, I would. I have tried many years without much success. Now I will know the farmers, the fields where my food is growing, even the hens that are producing my eggs. And pictured above is delicious farm fresh yogurt, feta and goat cheese from the farm. CSA farms are each organized a bit differently. The farm near me calls the participants members, and we buy shares in the farm. Then we are provided weekly with baskets of freshly picked produce and/or eggs and/or cheese, etc. The members shoulder some of the risk that farmers face, so there is no guarantee in the variety and portion. .

The farm provided me with a hand-drawn produce wheel to show what will be available when. As an artist, I love how the format ties with a color wheel. It's a circle divided into pie pieces that represent the months of the year and which crops will be prime. It also shows the two Rebirth periods where they refurbish the soil and take a break and replant. They also show when the baby animals get first dibs on the milk, so no cheese will be available to the members, etc. I think it's really interesting living in Florida and having two big growing seasons.

I will be visiting the farm in a couple of weeks, so I hope to be able to provide more photos then!

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