Community Supported Agriculture Programs (CSA) are a great way to support our local farmers!
The COVID19 virus has made us reconsider many things about our lives including the hectic pace of modern life. While fears about the slowing of our economy abound, so do ideas on how we might approach life differently.
Many people are doing this by supporting their local businesses, especially smaller, more vulnerable businesses. Small businesses drive economic growth and employ over 50% of the workforce, compared to large businesses that employ less than 40%. Small businesses also tend to be more localized, bring jobs and diversity to our communities.
One small business group that has been overlooked are local farmers. Many people don’t know that there are small farms, right here in our community, who want to sell locally. We can all help these small farmers by buying produce from the local Farmers Markets or by becoming a member of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. CSA programs have been with us since the 1980s and allow small-scale farms to connect with their local community. Individuals buy a “subscription” to the farm, like buying a share of the crop. Usually a CSA is purchased in winter or early spring and then throughout the year each person receives their share of the farm’s produce.
Buying local, through a CSA or at a Farmer’s Market, allows fresh local produce to reach people in their communities, save consumers money by shaving off retail costs and helps local farmers stay in business. Right now, according to the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, many small farms are being negatively impacted by the coronavirus. It isn’t that they are not able to produce the food, the problem lies with the supply chain. As local and regional food systems are impacted, product is not getting to consumers. Food waste is increasing and with critical supply chain infrastructure shutting down, farmers are sometimes resorting to dumping food product because they can’t get it to the market.
In her article, Now Is The Time To Sign Up For Community-Supported Agriculture, Adrienne Matei explains why this happens. “A supply chain reliant on a relatively small number of large factories to process and package food is a fragile one. Decentralized and localized systems are more resilient in the face of disruption – meaning more small-scale farms producing more food could be just what we need to protect our communities against future crises.”
Buying local also helps us “flatten the curve” for climate change. It helps us flatten the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere so our natural and manmade systems are not overwhelmed. CO2 is naturally dispersed into the ground through plants. Farms that use sustainable methods, such as cover crops or no till practices, improve this process and make for a better healthier world.
Purchasing a CSA through a local farm is a win-win for all. You can locate a CSA near you by going to https://minnesotagrown.com. If you want to help farmers more directly check out the Mill City Farmers Market Charitable Fund at https://millcityfarmersmarket.org/.