Top | Cronewolf Howls — Blog

Why I Participate in Community Supported Agriculture

(post, DawnHeather Simmons)

We live in a time when running a family farm is a difficult and risky venture.  This is unfortunate, because there are undeniable benefits to eating locally-produced fruits and vegetables. As a confirmed "foodie," I can attest to the fact that fresh-from-the-farm beats bought-at-the-big-chain-store hands down!  Once you’ve eaten farm eggs from free-range chickens, or fresh strawberries hand-picked this morning, you’ll wonder if it what they have at the store is even the same thing!  And I truly believe that supporting small, local, family farms is good for our community and for the country!

My farmer uses organic growing methods, and I get a variety of fresh, healthy produce from her at a good price for the entire growing season.   Because of my participation, I am able to purchase a wider variety of produce than I might otherwise be able to afford – and to try things I might otherwise not try.  Because of the participation of all of the shareholders in this farm, my farmer is able to help cover the costs of planting, to know what items to plant, and that she will have a guaranteed market for her produce.  

One of the things I like about doing this is that it helps me understand more fully what it takes to get produce on my table.  When my farmer has to deal with weird weather fluctuations that affect her growing season, we all share in that frustration with her.  But I think we all learn from that, too.  Most of us don't think about the cost of growing produce, or the work involved.  And really, for most people, there's no reason to.  Those blueberries in the store that came from who-knows-where are beautiful – and beautifully packaged.  But there's something about eating blueberries grown on land just minutes away from my home and picked by hand when fully ripe (that very day) by a woman who I know by name...  well, they taste SO much better!  

To be sure, CSA participation isn’t for everyone.  It can be challenging when you pick up your share and it’s full of stuff you maybe aren’t familiar with – or don’t especially like.  It can be challenging to figure out new ways to use things that you get more of than you might normally choose for yourself.  But it’s also an adventure, and should be viewed that way.  It’s fun to try new things, or to try old things in new ways.  It’s exciting to see what each week brings – to know in a very concrete way that different produce items really do have different seasons, and you get to enjoy each of them in its own time.  

It saddens me to know that my farmer works sometimes 60 or more hours a week and earns less than minimum wage.  I know that, ultimately, that's part of why many small farms fail, and I would sure hate to see that happen to someone I know!  So I am committed to the idea of CSA, and to supporting local family farms.  

When I became a shareholder in CSA, I made a personal investment on several levels:  
•In my own health and enjoyment. 
•In the success of one local family farm. 
•In the ability of my community to feed its members in a sustainable manner. 
•In the values that helped build this nation before it became so corporate and greedy. 
•In the health of our planet.
When viewed in this manner, it seems incredible to me that more people don't get involved in CSA.  This has been a great experience for me, and I've told several of my friends, all of whom thought it sounded great.  In some ways, for me personally, it’s been a better experience than I had hoped.  

So far, my participation in CSA has helped me learn that I wasn't eating as many vegetables as I thought I was; that I like kohlrabi; I don't especially like collards; it is possible to eat too many salads; it's not possible to have too many berries, shallots or onions; and that I really need to be buying more fresh flowers and herbs!  

I intend to continue participating in my CSA as long as my farmer will have me!  I am grateful for her hard work and dedication.  And I am hopeful that the community will recognize the enormous contribution made by all of the small, local farmers to the overall well-being of Clark County.