Posts Tagged ‘csa’

Sandy sent this March 20 update from the Letterbox Farm Collective in the Hudson Valley. Farmer Nichki is Sandy’s niece.

“We can see the ground! All of a sudden, our fields and beds have emerged.  We’re checking the soil daily to see if it’s thawed enough to get started.  In the meantime, we’re wrapping up a very full winter of projects, events, and olympic-level planning, and taking a deep breath before the neverending days of the growing season begin.  Its time to start seeds, take soil tests, and take stock.

“Six months ago, through lots of work, lots of luck, and the incredible support of our community, our team of farmers and land partners were able to purchase the land underneath our farm.  Farming with land security is entirely different than farming with a one-year lease …

“We’ve long been inspired by the Community Supported Agriculture model and have spent many years planning the CSA of our dreams.  We’re so proud to finally introduce our 2015 Meal Share, a ‘Full-Plate’ CSA designed to bring you a whole, compelling, and meal-based experience of eating from the ground. …

“Pigs. Now that we have land security and access to more outbuildings, we can finally bring on the larger livestock.  …

“While sometimes farming seems like a poor career choice, there are a couple things that make us feel luckier than everybody else.  The USDA Farm Service Agency’s Microloan program is one of them.  FSA Microloans are nifty little loans for up to 50k at generous interest rates, just for farmers to start or expand their operation.  …

“Inspired by the success of our September farm dinner with Momofuku Ko (the pictures are in!), we’ve officially opened up our land for weddings, parties and celebrations. … All proceeds from events go directly toward land renewal and restoration projects (this year’s projects are all about planting trees). …

“Our very own Nichki received a Farmer Grant from Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NESARE) to develop a comprehensive enterprise guide on raising rabbits humanely on pasture.  Watch out for ‘Pastured Rabbit for Profit’ hitting your PDF libraries and farming conferences this fall.”

It’s quite an inspiration to see these young people take on the hard work farming — learning and innovating as they go.

On a related note, New Englanders too far away to take advantage of a CSA in New York may want to check out some local community-supported-agriculture opportunities, here. The list is from EcoRI.

Photo: Letterbox Farm Collective

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Cousin Claire sent me a good link. I had heard about the trend of tying farms to housing developments, but according to the Smithsonian magazine, Development Supported Agriculture is striking a chord with Millenials in particular.

Shaylyn Esposito writes, “A new fad in the housing world is a concept called Development Supported Agriculture (DSA), or more broadly, ‘agrihoods.’

“DSA is the child of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), in which consumers pledge money or resources to support a farm operation, and in turn, receive a share of what it produces, but take the concept one step further by integrating the farm within residential developments. Instead of paying for access to a golf course or tennis courts, residents pay to be a part of a working farm—helping with the growing process and reaping the crops it produces. …

“The largest demographic of those trying to reconnect with the farm is Millennials, those born from the 1980s to the 2000s who ironically grew up farthest from the farm. As the average age of farmers continues to rise, it is this generation that is stepping in to fill the gaps.” More here.

Among the cohort of Millennial farmers are Sandy and Pat’s niece, now at the the Letterbox Farm Collective in the Hudson Valley. I blogged about her here and here.

Photo: Willowsford
This DSA community in Ashburn, Virginia, is hoping to fill 2,200 homes. Sounds like too many to be serious about the farming side of things.

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And speaking of payment systems, community-supported agriculture has been around for years and, more recently, community-supported art. I blogged about the approach here in 2011, when the Cambridge Center for the Arts embraced the concept.

The NY Times has written about it, too. Randy Kennedy lays out the principles: “For years, Barbara Johnstone, a professor of linguistics at Carnegie Mellon University [in Pittsburgh], bought shares in a C.S.A. — a community-supported agriculture program — and picked up her occasional bags of tubers or tomatoes or whatever the member farms were harvesting.

“Her farm shares eventually lapsed. (‘Too much kale,’ she said.) But on a recent summer evening, she showed up at a C.S.A. pickup location downtown and walked out carrying a brown paper bag filled with a completely different kind of produce. …

“ ‘It’s kind of like Christmas in the middle of July,’ said Ms. Johnstone, who had just gone through her bag to see what her $350 share had bought. The answer was a Surrealistic aluminum sculpture (of a pig’s jawbone, by William Kofmehl III), a print (a deadpan image appropriated from a lawn-care book, by Kim Beck) and a ceramic piece (partly about slavery, by Alexi Morrissey).

“Without even having to change the abbreviation, the C.S.A. idea has fully made the leap from agriculture to art. After the first program started four years ago in Minnesota … community-supported art programs are popping up all over the country …

“The art programs are designed to be self-supporting: Money from shares is used to pay the artists, who are usually chosen by a jury, to produce a small work in an edition of 50 or however many shares have been sold.”

Read all about it, here. Could be risky if you really don’t want a sculpture of a pig’s jawbone. But if you look at it as supporting the arts, you are likely to be satisfied with that side of things — and there’s always a chance you will love what you get or find its value increase.

Photo: Zoe Prinds-Flash
Drew Peterson’s prints and Liz Miller’s collages were among the art for members of this C.S.A., community-supported art, in Minnesota.

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I had heard about community-supported-agriculture-type efforts that deliver fish directly to consumers in the Greater Boston area. Very fresh. What I did not know is that this sort of initiative is taking place on a wider scale.

My husband recently pointed out a NY Times story on how professional Rhode Island fishermen have made it easy for chefs to buy directly from the daily catch. And according to the Times, the chefs are ecstatic.

“This boat-to-table initiative is part of Trace and Trust, a program that [Point Judith-based fisherman Steve] Arnold; Christopher Brown, the head of the Rhode Island Commercial Fishermen’s Association; and Bob Westcott, another local fisherman, started this year to make fishing more lucrative and shopping more reliable. …

“Trace and Trust comes at a moment when the seafood industry is under attack because of misleading labeling as well as the freshness and sustainability of what it sells. Consumers and fishermen have reacted by setting up community-supported fisheries, in which consumers pay in advance for a weekly delivery of seafood. And fishermen have reached out to chefs before. But Trace and Trust has used technology to create a more direct and responsive connection between consumers and fishermen than any other program in the country, said Peter Baker, director of Northeast Fisheries Program for the Pew Environment Group.”

Read more here. See also the Pew Environment Group’s focus on Conserving New England Fish.

Because of the field I’m in, I do have to spare a thought for the fish-processing jobs that may be lost with more of this direct marketing, but there is no doubt that for the fisherman, the consumer, and the restaurant, fresh is best.

Here’s a picture I took of the Point Judith (RI) fishing fleet at rest.

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A week or so ago, I wrote about CSA, community-supported arts, a concept that borrows from the community-supported agriculture movement. In case you missed it, here’s the post.

Another creative idea for supporting the arts is crowd funding. I learned about it from the Backstage blog by way of ArtsJournal.com.

” ‘I saw people believing in themselves enough to try and make money for their projects,’ said Monica Mirabile, a co-founder of the Copycat Theatre. Earlier this year, Mirabile was applying for grants for her Baltimore-based theater troupe when a friend suggested she look into Kickstarter, a ‘crowd-funding’ website that promotes artistic projects through social media and allows donors to
support fundraising campaigns with any amount of money they desire. Crowd-funding sites have grown in popularity over the last few years and continue to attract artists and benefactors. …

” ‘This is not the newest idea on the block. It’s very traditional. But we’ve become very used to the idea of someone in a boardroom giving us a check and we hand them a piece of art and cross our fingers. The longer history of art is actually one of patronage that involves the artist’s audience. …

” Users of crowd funding must summarize their projects and goals for potential donors, a process that can help artists sharpen the skills needed to pitch or develop those projects in the future. ‘I learned how to better articulate why I’m doing the project and my artwork and what we’re trying to gain,’ said Mirabile. ‘I made friends because, by promoting, I got to talk to different
people in my community and made connections.’ ”

Read more here. And if you try an approach like Kickstarter, would you let me know how it worked for you? Leave a comment.

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Community-supported agriculture has been working well for some years now. A person who likes local produce and wants to support local agriculture will buy a “share” that can help support a farmer (recently, even a fisherman) while giving the “investor” a guaranteed amount of food. The “dividend” could be a dozen eggs a week, a basket of produce, a partial catch of fish. Often a group of friends will band together on a share, especially if they don’t think they can use all the zucchini they expect come midsummer.

Now some artists are trying this approach. A $300 share in “Community Supported Art will get [a person] three monthly assortments of locally created artworks — nine pieces in all. … CSArt, a new project of the Cambridge [MA] Center for Adult Education, is modeled on a wildly popular Minnesota art CSA, which has inspired groups in Chicago and Frederick, Maryland, to create their versions. And some glassmakers in Burlington, Vermont., independently adopted the CSA form last year.

” ‘The success of the Minnesota program is due in part to the fact that it’s based on something people understand,’ said Laura Zabel, executive director. … CSArt aims to nurture artists as small business owners and to tap into the burgeoning enthusiasm for the local and the handmade.” Read the Boston Globe article.


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