Saturday, February 23, 2008


In the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle Barbara Kingsolver calls February "the hungry month." While you are contemplating your hunger, why not think to this summer when foods will be growing in your garden and can be easily harvested.

What? You don't have a garden? Not enough room? You live in an apartment! I do too. Katie and I have tried to grow some plants in our windows, but they all face north and plants never thrive. But we do want to eat foods fresh from our garden or farm anyway. If only there were a way to have some direct stake in the land and the bounty that came from it without owning land.

Actually there are two ways. Community Supported Agriculture(CSA)/farm shares are one and another is the community garden. Both allow you to enjoy the bounty of the harvest at a more personal level, but each has its own strengths.

CSAs are a way for you and me to connect directly to a farm where our produce is grown and directly support the farmers that grow it. There are three reasons that this is important. Financially: food you buy in the supermarket gives very little of every dollar you spend to the farmers who grew it. See the USDA infographic below.
Source: USDA infographic

Your money can go farther too. You pay for part or all of your share before the food comes to the market so the farmer has money to pay expenses without relying on credit or loans. For your part, the food is often but not always cheaper than if you bought the equivalent food at a supermarket. The Environmental benefits are even better. Many farms that participate in CSAs use organic or Integrated Pest Managaement practices. And by the very nature of a CSA, the farm that supplies your food has to be a close drive to your pickup location. The final reason that CSAs are good is, for lack of a better word, spiritually. You know where your food was grown. You know the farmer who grew it. And you are sharing in the bounty of the harvest, a tradition as old as agriculture itself.

You can find a local CSA by going to and entering your zip code.

Tomorrow I will tell you about community gardens.

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