Thursday, July 10, 2008

Community-Supported Agriculture in the NYT

My friend Peter sent me an article in the New York Times published today about community sponsored (or supported) agriculture (CSA). The concept of CSA originated in Japan and Switzerland in the 1960s and was brought to the United States in the 1980s. The basic premise is that consumers buy shares in a local farm with other local consumers; each person then gets a portion of the farm's crops for the seasons they buy shares. In this manner, local people share the financial responsibility of their local farms and agree to support their local farms, the farms becoming, in some ways, the community's farm. The CSA movement has been gaining a lot of moment in recent years, mostly in areas with a lot of farms, such as New York, the Great Lakes regions, and, more recently, California.

I looked up some of the places where one can find such farms and found that a lot of the farms local to San Francisco had merged with spud!, North America's largest natural foods delivery service. While the idea behind spud! is a good one, using economics of scale to market but purchasing locally, it sort of takes the community/getting your hands dirty feel out of CSA farming. I found another website, however, that I thought was really useful, Local Harvest, which has a database searchable by zip and state that allows you to found local CSA farms. For SF, I found 11 CSA farms; sort of cool, yes? I think so...

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