Defund Big Agra and Support Your Local, Organic Farms with Community Supported Agriculture!

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Strike Back: Support Your Local Community Agriculture & Defund Big Agra

(Nutritional One way to fight the power of Big Agra — and in turn fight for issues you care about, like, perhaps, promoting Organic food, avoiding pesticides and GMOs, or promoting the local economy — is to support your local farmer.

Just who is your local farmer, anyway?

Well, it could be you, it could be a neighbor or friend you know personally, or it could be a producer from nearby whether you know them or not.

Whoever that local farmer is, they surely need your support.

There’s a lot of uncertainty and risk in producing food. As anyone who scans the news knows, harsh weather and increasing prices for food commodities, soil inputs, land and equipment all challenge the affordability of food, making it harder for the farmer to stay and business and more expensive for the average person to afford healthy food.

This goes double for farmers who pay extra to raise organic food — especially if they pay extra to have their crops certified USDA Organic, meaning extra costs for meeting standards, having food inspected and keeping up with documentation.

That’s why Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) can be a useful model. This form of food production and distribution relies upon a voluntary network of community members who agree to buy into a particular farmer’s crop and, in turn, receive a weekly (or regular) share of the fruits of his labor, or in this case, fruits and vegetables.

Community shares are also a viable option for dairy producers — most notably raw milk producers — as well as meat, egg, honey and just about any other kind of producer.

Wikipedia defines Community Supported Agriculture (or Community-Shared Agriculture) as:

an alternative, locally-based economic model of agriculture and food distribution. A CSA also refers to a particular network or association of individuals who have pledged to support one or more local farms, with growers and consumers sharing the risks and benefits of food production. CSA members or subscribers pay at the onset of the growing season for a share of the anticipated harvest; once harvesting begins, they receive weekly shares of vegetables and fruit, in a vegetable box scheme. Often, CSAs also include herbs, honey, eggs, dairy products and meat, in addition to conventional produce offerings.In theory a CSA can provide any product to its members, although the majority of CSA operations tend to provide produce, fruits, and various edibles. Some CSA programs also include cut flowers and various ornamental plants as part of their weekly pickup arrangement. Some CSAs provide for contributions of labor in lieu of a portion of subscription costs.

The development of the concept is credited to Rudolf Steiner, who also heavily influenced the modern concept of “organic” farming and fostered what he termed “biodynamic agriculture.”

Melissa and I recently signed up for our first block of a CSA with Johnson’s Backyard Garden, a local Austin-based certified Organic farm that literally originated in the actual backyard of founder Brenton Johnson and grew rapidly in scale through the farmer’s market.

Thanks to support from the community and plenty of hard work, Johnson’s Backyard Garden boasts more than 1,000 CSA members (who pay for a share of veggies each week) and thousands more customers who buy his produce at Farmer’s Markets and in local grocery stores like Whole Foods and Wheatsville Co-op.

For the second week in a row now, we picked up a box loaded with a variety of fresh veggies. Johnson’s Backyard is known in particularly for their intensely flavorful carrots (which taste way better than anything sold in stores), but I think his spring onions are also particularly wonderful.

At any rate, JBG even has a website veggie guide — particular to each week’s share –a to give you fast facts on sometimes less recognizable vegetables lurking in your share — like Celeriac (celery root) or Kohlrabi — and provides tips on storage, preparation, cooking and even recipes.

Members of the community can support in a different way, too, by volunteering for a half day of backbreaking farm labor — pitching in help with harvesting or packing produce — in return for a weekly share of veggies and some experience with a highly successful organic gardening operation.

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