Recent discussions about farming have often focused on declining numbers of farmers and the distance food travels to reach our plates. Times are changing. Now, there are a variety of initiatives making local foods more attainable.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) benefits local communities and farmers in a variety of ways. The program provides a weekly portion of fresh fruits and vegetables to its members. It’s called supported agriculture for good reason. CSA members pay for their share prior to the season and receive a variety of fresh produce based on crop yield. However, if the farmer experiences bad weather or unusual conditions impacting their crop the financial support of CSA members acts as an insurance for farmers. This helps farmers focus on expanding other crops and easing the burden for the next season.
In Ontario alone, there are hundreds of CSAs, making it easy to become members at various locations in cities and towns. Members of CSA’s reap many benefits. They know what they are receiving is fresh, harvested the day of pick up, local and sustainable. Additionally every week members can expect something different challenging them to think outside of the box and try new things on a weekly basis. Instead of a repetitive trip to the grocery store where a majority of us don’t even take a second glance at unique seasonally delicious produce, members are provided with exceptional local delicacies in addition to seasonal favourites to tickle the taste buds.
This fall, I helped out at two CSAs in different communities, gaining the opportunity to speak with members and farmers. Both CSAs had recently started and in the first year, experienced an overwhelming number of members. From conversations with farmers, I’ve gathered that they seem to enjoy the relationship they build with members while weekly shares are picked up. Members have also expressed how they appreciate their relationships with farmers in addition to the variety of produce they receive.
As mentioned in yesterday’s post, it’s important to build relationships and know the exact location of where the food on your table comes from. This helps us better appreciate what we are eating while supporting local businesses and rescuing our ecological footprints.
Do you know of a CSA in your town? Let us know about it (and your experiences with it) below!