Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Friday, December 7, 2012
I'm available day or night to come to your work, community event/group meeting or home to talk about Community Supported Agriculture and its impact on a community. I put together a short presentation called "Community Supported Agriculture: Transforming Communities." This is not a marketing presentation. The presentation is a fun way to explore your options and learn about Community Supported Agriculture - CSA! We can even talk about gardening tips and how to grow your own garden!
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Wednesday, March 14, 2012
The temperature may not emulate a traditional Wisconsin winter, but the date lets you know that southeastern Wisconsin Community Supported Agriculture—CSA farmers are gearing up for the 2012 season. If there is one thing everyone agrees on, eating local is good. We know it is good for the state’s economy; more importantly, it closes the gap between rural food production and urban food consumption to create sustainable, healthy communities.
Top 5 Reasons to Eat Locally Through a CSA:
- Helps Support Family Farms – Keeps food dollars in the community and state.
- Freshness and Quality – Unique varieties of seasonal produce picked at their peak.
- Land Stewardship – Protects our community’s water and environment.
- Nutritious - Your food travels 50 miles or less from farm to table.
- Affordable – Direct marketing = no middleman costs
The CSA farmer markets directly to the consumer. Every CSA operates a little different, but the concept is simple. The consumer, described as a shareholder or member, purchases a share prior to the growing season. This provides the farmer with capital and guarantees a market for their product. Members can then rely on fresh, local produce throughout the typical 20-week season. Beverly Hines, an engineer in Oconomowoc, emphasizes, “My food is grown five miles from where I live and arrives freshly picked, therefore at its peak nutritious state. I know who is growing my food, and it is not being covered with toxins. That is important to me.”
Members of the farm share in the risks and bounty of the garden. The idea of shared risk is part of what creates a sense of community among members, and between members and the farmer. If a hail storm ruins the corn, everyone is disappointed together; similarly, a bountiful harvest of tomatoes brings “Tomato Fest” instead of “Corn Fest” in July.
Another goal of a CSA is to get members involved in the production of their food. Some farmers may work out agreements with members to reduce the cost of a share in exchange for labor, while some CSAs require voluntary labor. Hines states, “I like the fact that I can work on the farm at times that fit around my own work schedule. I write my name on the farm’s work schedule calendar and there is no worry about not being able to fulfill my obligation.” Additionally, the goal is to provide members with the “farm experience.” Farmers should encourage members to visit the farm to see how their food is grown and to learn how the farm operates, which helps members to connect with their food.
Eating local and knowing where your food comes from should be a priority. There are resources on the Internet to locate local food sources. One of the more popular sites is www.localharvest.org, which showcases CSA farms throughout Wisconsin and the U.S. In addition, communities invite local CSAs to “Meet Your Farmer” type events so families can learn about a CSA and which CSA is right for them. Jamie Ferschinger, Branch Manager at the Urban Ecology Center - Riverside Park, holds an annual CSA event in spring, “In ten years the event has grown from five farmers and 20 people to 30 farmers and over 1000 people who come to the Center to meet the farmers, learn about buying food locally, and supporting their community.” She refers to it as her favorite event of the year!
The spring event will be held at the Urban Ecology Center – Riverside in Milwaukee on March 17 from 11am – 4pm. In addition, Lake Country Green Fair, at Unitarian Universalist Church in Hartland, will be on April 21 from 10am -3pm.
5 Questions to ask your Farmer at an Event:
- Who grows the fruits and vegetables, and where is the farm located?
- Does the farmer use chemical pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers on the crops?
- Is the farm a diversified operation, with many varieties of vegetables and fruits?
- Does the farm grow any heirloom varieties of fruits or vegetables?
- Are any of the fruits or vegetables genetically engineered varieties?