{KNOW YOUR FARMER} why are you a CSA member?

Editor’s Note: I’m having some internet connection problem, so I apologize for the late posting time. If you are local PLEASE come out to talk to your local farmers today at NOFA-NY’s 2nd Annual CSA Fair. Its a great place to have a casual chat with your local farmer since there isn’t any retail produce sales, like at a farmers market! Details below!

This post is a reworking of our post “Join A CSA?” from March 2011. Last year, I accompanied Michael Kilpatrick of Kilpatrick Family Farm to the 1st Annual CSA Fair as a CSA member. I was there to answer questions from a member-perspective. There I met Christine, now our Managing Editor and dear friend, and now just shy of 1 year ago, I am KFF’s CSA Coordinator and heading to DC on Monday as a NYS constiuent to speak about local farmings & food infrastructure and my story to Gillibrand, Gibson and now Kathleen Merrigan, Deputy Secretary of the USDA.  What a difference a year makes. I am truly grateful for this journey. Its been a blast and I see amazing things in the future. I am a lucky duck! -Christina

Here in the Northeast, it’s summer-share CSA {Community Support Agriculture} sign-up time.

More specifically in our little corner of the world, the Albany/Saratoga/Schenectady/Troy area is being treated to the 2nd Annual CSA Fair sponsored by our dear friends, the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York, NOFA-NY. It is being held in Albany at the TODAY at the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Albany 405 Washington Avenue (across from SUNY Albany Downtown), from 1-4pm. It is FREE to attend!

This is a big gathering of all the local CSA farmers in one spot, there to answer your questions; price, pick-up location, conventional or organic, fruit/no-fruit, micro or full share AND for you to hopefully purchase a share. In addition, if you stop by the Kilpatrick Family Farm table, you will of get to meet ME! As the CSA Coordinator for the farm, I handle all the CSA Sales. Other fabulous local CS Programs will be represented from our friends at Quincy Farm, Denison Farm, R’Eisen Shine Farm, Roxbury Farm & Alleged Farm, among others.

In addition, FSC will be there as “CSA & Farming Advocates” there to answer any question you have regarding CSA’s. We will also have our regular DIY antics with Liz making butter and recipe samples & recipe cards. We are keeping the food sampling/Demoing to a minimum with only two types of mustard (citrus mustards- soon to be on the blog) and some of my white bean & dried tomato dip. We are mostly there for attendees (hopefully YOU) to ask us questions and well, just to chat. We will have the cutest coloring pages for the kiddos to take him with them! Christine will also be lurking around at the beginning of the fair to get interviews from attendees and farmers for our March episode of FSC Podcast which will be all about CSA Programs.

If you are a regular reader of the blog you know that many of us are CSA Members or where members until our homestead gardens grew enough to feed the family.

We ALL love(d) being a share holder for one reason or another. If you are on the fence about joining this summer, I asked the group to answer : Why join a CSA?

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(This first quote is a direct copy of an email Jillian sent to Justine Denison of Denison Farm just hours after Hurrican Irene)

Hi Justine
You were talking last week about asking what CSA means to the members. I think it’s a great time to ask that question. It’s easy to answer it when times are good and plentiful and secure. What about now, when we may not see very much of anything in our weekly share? What happens this winter, when Michael’s crops are low too and I am part of his CSA? What does CSA mean then? Why do we do this? Why do I support you & eating locally?
I could go to Price Chopper and buy my peppers and tomatoes but I don’t and even if all of yours are gone for the season – which I am sure they aren’t – I won’t. I’ll go without. I’ve gotten nice and fat eating all of your good food and this may be the season I lose that weight (!). I know that next year things will be new again and the growing season will start up with great promise, and I support you because I have faith in the natural process and the growing season. I trust you and Brian and all of your crew to learn what you can about growing and use that knowledge to be good stewards to the plants. I trust you to hold on to a piece of Mother Nature that is being stolen away by developers. I expect you to live the life you want to live, just as I want to live the life I want to live, and I want to support you in doing so. I do this because I believe that even when times are bad, it won’t kill me, it won’t make me a worse person, and I won’t suffer more than I need to.
I invest in you because I am investing in my food system (which is always better than conventional ag, even when floods take over), I am investing in our local land, and I’m investing in you, and with all of this, I’m investing in our future. So that is why I do it. Take care and be safe. – Jillian

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I am lucky to say I now work for the farm where I first had a CSA share. Someday I hope to have my own CSA farm, so I’m definitely very passionate about it. What I love most is the sense of community that comes from being involved with a CSA. Getting to know my farmer and learning about the veggies was fantastic, but it’s been even better to be ‘on the other side of the table.’ Each weekend I have such a great time talking with the CSA members at market. When they get their share we catch up on life and recipes and I feel like I have this great web of people in my life now because of the CSA model.”~Erika

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You pay upfront for a season of produce. That season may go very well for your farm, or it may go less-than-perfectly. It’s a risk and it’s a risk worth taking. Yes, check your farm out to make sure they have the capacity to handle a good CSA program. But know that Mother Nature has a way of meddling in your best-laid plans and budgets. Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee dropped the hurt on our region this year, leaving behind many devastated fields and lost crops in local farms. It was then that we were most happy with our decision to become CSA members. Although the revenue from KFF’s CSA program is designated for specific, long-term investments rather than weekly operating costs, we were happy to have made a commitment to support a local farm through a tough season. (I should note that the quality of our shares remained stellar but even if KFF not been able to maintain that level, we would have been ok with that.)” -Christine from here amazing post about her 1st CSA Season(with tips)!

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“I joined a CSA because the idea of picking up a fresh box of veggies each week from a farm was enchanting.  Yes….Fairy tale-ish.  I love unpacking the box with the help of my toddler.  We look at each vegetable and talk about what it is and feel it.  He still doesn’t eat them all but it’s a great education in where our food comes from.  I also love feeling like a part of a special community that is supporting local farms!” -Sarah (March 2011)

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“Connecting with the source of my food by joining a CSA means taking a new level of responsibility for the food that my family and I consume.  By challenging myself to prepare meals with local and organic foods it’s harder to take what we eat for granted.  The ever-expanding movement to support ethical and sustainable food production is exciting and I want to be a part of it.” -Alexis (March 2011)

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I joined the winter CSA at Kilpatrick Family Farms because even though I have a big garden in the summer, I do not have the capacity to raise greens in the winter nor to store a large enough quantity of root crops to feed my family all year. I love high quality, fresh food, and KFF keeps it coming through November, December, January, February, March and April.   Just as my peas are peeping up in the spring, my share is finished.  The timing is perfect.

Buying a winter share also keeps me coming to the farmers market each week.  I might be tempted to hibernate in the cold weather if I didn’t have an incentive to leave the house every Saturday morning.  Going to the market to pick up my share, I also buy bread and eggs and mushrooms and tamales and apples and cider and yogurt and fish from other vendors.  We eat better, fresher food all winter long.  Thanks KFF.  You keep me from lapsing into a junk-food-induced stupor during the dark times of the year.” -Dianna (March 2011)

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1.       To buy from local farms.  I want my kids to know where their food is grown and who grows it,

2.       Very easy local and quick weekly pick up, and finally

3.       Even though the cost seems like a lot at the beginning, we are getting a great value for amazing produce!

– Amanda (March 2011)

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“Ooh, so many reasons! I love knowing my farmers, visiting the farm where my food is growing, the sense of community that being part of a CSA creates, getting to experiment with foods I would never have tried otherwise, enjoying such fresh produce, saving time on grocery shopping during CSA months, knowing that my veggies are chemical-free and not harming the environment!” - Leslie (March 2011)
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“Making an investment in a local business feels right. It feels important. The money I invest at the beginning of the season tells the farmer, the community and the society at large that there is a growing number of people who believe in sustainable, organic, small-scale farming is an important piece of the environmental, social justice, animal welfare and economic puzzle for the future. In addition, on a personal level, there is not a more important education for my food-allergic son than learning the variety of vegetables and fruits but also about the soil-to-table process. Actually KNOWING the men and women who grow the food he eats. As for me, being apart of the farming community has transformed my quality of life; Wednesdays & Saturdays are sacred farmers market days. Lastly, unlike the aisles & aisles of “food” at our local grocery story, EVERYTHING that is grown by our local farmers is safe for Miles to eat; it opens up a world of possibilities for his ever-expanding palette.”
-Me

Wanna read more? ( I wanted to update this from the 2011 version, but ran out of time due to my computer issue- SORRY!)

  • I wrote a piece on my gratitude for being a part of the KFF family “Thanksgiving Gratitude, An Update”
  • Christine has AMAZING tips, tricks and general ideas about joining a CSA on her personal blog Unspeakable Visions: Here and here. (READ THEM THEY ARE AWESOME!!!)
  • Go to Local Harvest to find a CSA in your area!
  • Sarah, Amanda & I {and the 5 kiddos} went on a KFF farm tour during the summer of 2011.
  • A local filmmaker completed a short 8-minute documentary, The Local Food Movement” staring many farmers and workers who are at the Saratoga Farmers Market, including Michael Kilpatrick & Justine Denison. Watch here on YouTube.
  • A very timely piece by Mark Bittman about a report that was published this week by the UN finding that sustainable and organic farming is a viable way to feed the world. Here’s the report.
  • A piece in the New York Times about a growing number of 20′s & 30-something in Oregon are opting to farm.
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Categories: Farming

Author:Christina

Finding her true calling, connecting people to their local foodshed, Christina is the Editor & Founder of From Scratch Club and a proud CSA Member & Market Crew member of Kilpatrick Family Farm. At the homestead, she is the Chef de Cuisine, Master Baker & Head Food Preservationist to her husband Charles and their 2 year old son, Miles Jae. Although always a supporter of local, sustainable, humane and whole foods, Chris is now on a serious mission to bring those principles into her kitchen due to Miles Jae’s multiple food allergy diagnosis, asthma and the rare disease, EE. All of her recipes are dairy, soy, tree nuts, peanuts, gluten/wheat, pea, corn & sesame free.

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9 Comments on “{KNOW YOUR FARMER} why are you a CSA member?”

  1. March 3, 2012 at 9:14 am #

    Have fun today at the fair!

  2. March 3, 2012 at 1:58 pm #

    Here on Long Island (downstate NY!) we are members of Restoration Farm CSA at Old Bethpage Restoration Village. I do it for the freshness, flavor and quality, for the companionship of volunteering, for the folks who have taught my four-year-old to grow his own food and eat it off the stalks and vines and bushes for the matinenance of farmland in this overdeveloped area…gosh, so many good reasons! (oh, and it’s cheaper than buying organic at the supermarket!)

  3. March 4, 2012 at 1:30 am #

    I love this. In Vancouver here there are few good programs that are running but I am definitely signing up this year! I love to support abything local when it comes to food, and I have a hard time at the Farmer’s Market lineups (but love them nonetheless). I love that farmer’s can rely on having a known home for the beautiful freshness they work so hard to produce. Everyone wins. Great post!

  4. March 4, 2012 at 1:33 am #

    And also my spelling, is well, not that great!

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