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Community Supported Agriculture on Denman Island
By Magdalene Joly
What is Community Supported Agriculture?
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) helps to foster a closer link between people and their food, while reducing the footprint of the consumer, and making an investment into sustainable agriculture and local economies.
There are a number of different models, with the traditional one being that the CSA members make a commitment to the farm at the beginning of the season by paying in advance for a portion of the farm’s products throughout the season. This guarantees the farm a market for its products, provides members fresh food at a discount, and fosters responsible relationships between farmer, eater, and the land where the food is grown. However, some programs offer monthly or even weekly memberships. Many CSA’s also offer farm visits, work parties, and other special events for members.
Why Join a CSA?
Some of the myriad benefits of joining a CSA are regular access to ultra fresh locally grown produce and products, the experience of a huge variety of different fruits and veggies grown by an organic farmer, a serious understanding of eating seasonally and what grows in your area, getting to participate in the farm through farm tours, dinners and work parties, and having a strong relationship with the farmer and land that grew your food. Plus, it’s very convenient to receive a fresh box of food without any shopping.
What to expect when joining a CSA?
- The member receives a weekly box of food throughout the growing season, typically from May to November. The season may go for longer depending on the growing season in your area and the farmer’s interest in growing winter crops.
- The CSA manager may accept monthly or even weekly payments for the food. Some may require a longer term commitment
- Eating seasonally means having less variety and choice in the shoulder seasons. Spring brings a wealth of greens in all shapes and sizes but no apples or tomatoes yet.
- You will be receiving produce that may look more real than that in the supermarket; some dirt and bugs should be assumed.
- Some farms deliver to your door while others have a designated pick up point.
- Enjoying a seasonally determined basket of food means having a willingness to try new things and be creative
How far has your food traveled? Why Eat local and support a CSA?
We know that eating locally grown food mitigates our impacts on the environment and seriously decreased our contribution to global warming.
Rich Pirog of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture reports that the average fresh food item on our dinner table travels 1,500 miles to get there. Buying locally produced food eliminates the need for all that fuel-guzzling transportation.
A study in Iowa found that a regional diet consumed 17 times less oil and gas than a typical diet based on food shipped across the country. ( http://100milediet.org/why-eat-local/ )
Eating locally-produced food avoids many problems caused by the industrial food system. These problems include contributing to climate change through carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions; poisoning of our waterways, our food and our bodies, spreading of pathogens, contributing to poor health through processed and denatured foods; and practicing farming techniques that strip land of top soil and soil nutrients. Many of these problems contribute to food insecurity and all are damaging our bodies and our planet.
If all Denman Islanders chose to eat a 50% local food diet we could affect a very positive change here on the island through stimulating our local economy and creating meaningful work, which would thus create more opportunity and wellbeing of islanders.
Strategy for Change on a Local Level!
Supporting projects like CSA’s are one of many small ways to take control of our food supply, build community, and resist the insane takeover of industrial agriculture, corporate big box stores, and fossil fuel inputs from ruling our food system and destroying the planet.
Advantages for the community and environment:
- Improved social networks, social responsibility and a sense of community and trust.
- The environmental benefits from decreased food miles, boycotting GMO’s, less packaging, ecologically sensitive farming with ethical animal practices.
- A local economy enhanced by meaningful and environmentally responsible employment, more local processing, local consumption and a re-circulation of money throughout the local economy.
- Withdrawing our support for the big box stores and corporate agri-business.
- Fostering a local culture that values local and healthy food and earth care.
“We have alternatives that protect the Earth, protect our farmers, and protect our health and nutrition. To occupy the food system means simultaneously resisting corporate control and building sustainable and just alternatives, from the seed to the table. One seed at a time, one farm at a time, one meal at a time — we must break out of corporate food dictatorship and create a vibrant and robust food democracy.”
-Dr. Vandana Shiva from an article entitled “Create food democracy, Occupy the food supply”
For more info about CSA’s check out these links