When I first placed a book about Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) on a gift wish list of mine in the late 1990s I had to do a lot of explaning. I find these days I have to do less and less explaning. CSA is all the rage these days, particularly in sustainability circles, and what a good thing it is. Hopefully we all can help CSA become more mainstream since it is a key dimension of a sustainable agriculture system in which farmers receive fair compensation for what they provide direct from consumers.
Robyn Van En is said to have founded the first CSA in the USA in 1985. According to houseinthewoods.com she is said to have defined CSA with the following formula that I like:
food producers + food consumers + annual commitment to one another = CSA and untold possibilities
A longer definition from houseinthewoods.com states "Consumers invest in the farm with an upfront annual payment and sometimes a commitment to help out on the farm; in exchange, they receive a share of the harvest, agreeing to share in the risk or the bounty of the harvest with the farmer."
The Robyn Van En Center at Wilson College outlines 5 goals of Community Supported Agriculture:
* encourages proper land stewardship by supporting farmers in transition toward low or no chemical inputs and utilization of energy saving technologies.
* strengthens local economies by keeping food dollars in local communities.
* directly links producers with consumers allowing people to have a personal connection with their food and the land on which it was produced.
* makes nutritious, affordable, wholesome foods accessible and widely available to community members.
* creates an atmosphere for learning about non-conventional agricultural, animal husbandry, and alternative energy systems not only to the farmers and their apprentices, but also to members of the community, to educators from many fields of study, and to students of all ages.
With this is mind, SE Michigan area folks interested in getting a share have some local options, although expect some of the following to have waitlists into next year (Calling all young people - We need more market farmers!):
Community Farm of Ann Arbor is easily the oldest CSA in the area and members pick up their shares at the farm about 15 miles to the west from May-November (contact Anne Elder, 734-433-0261).
Boxelder Acres is the next oldest well known CSA in the area with members picking up their shares July-October at the farm just north of Ypsilanti (contact Asa Wilson, 734-483-7752).
Tantre Farm offers a popular share June-October that may be picked up at the farm or at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market Wednesdays or Saturdays (contact Richard Richard Andres, 734-475-4323).
Garden Works also offers some shares June-October that may be picked up at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market Saturdays (contact Robert MacKercher, 734-995-5130).
Garden Patch Farm also offers shares as well July-October which must be picked up at their farm in Pinckney (contact Tim & Robin Leonard, 734-878-2920).
Additional CSA options exist for SE Michigan and the rest of Michigan, some of which can be located at http://www.localharvest.org or http://www.wilson.edu/csasearch/search.asp. Or head on down to your local farmers market and let producers there know demand for a CSA exists and that you'd be interested if they offered one.
Incidentally, that excellent book about CSA from my wish list is titled Sharing the Harvest by Elizabeth Henderson and is available from Chelsea Green Publishing and hopefully your local book store and library.