CSA Farms Taking Root in China

January 24, 2011
China rice field with farmer. Photographer: Markus Raab, licensed under Wikimedia Creative Commons.

USA Today has published a noteworthy story about the development of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in China. Having reported about CSA since its inception in the USA in 1986 (Farms of Tomorrow), I was heartened to learn how far and wide the concept has spread. Much more lies ahead.

Correspondents Calum MacLeod and Sunny Yang report: “Almost 70% of China’s consumers feel insecure about food safety, according to a survey released recently by Insight China Magazine and the Tsinghua University Media Survey Lab.

“Now some individuals and companies are taking action to ensure the produce on their dining tables, or in work canteens, is fit to eat. A small but growing number of people are starting or joining organic farms that abide by the community-supported agriculture (CSA) model being used in the USA.”

I very much appreciated this next paragraph from their story, because it underscores core ideas about the purpose of CSA that often are obscured:

“At the Little Donkey Farm, which she opened in 2009 in Beijing’s semi-rural suburbs, Shi hears from other people planning similar projects. “Their first question is usually ‘Can I make money from this?’ ” Shi says. “The purpose is not making money, but sustaining farmers on the land, and teaching city people the importance of protecting our planet and the soil.”

These core CSA economic and environmental elements are likely to come forward even more distinctly in the years ahead — not just in China, but in the USA, Canada, and the rest of the world — as the call of our changing economy and climate mandate wiser responses from us.


State of the World 2011 – Agriculture at the Crossroads

January 15, 2011

The State of the World 2011 report will be made public during a symposium livestreamed on the Internet on Wednesday, January 19th starting at 1:30PM EST in Washington DC.

The symposium panel will not only discuss the State of the Earth, but also a range of sustainable responses to current conditions. Agricultural development has come to a crossroads. Nearly a half-century after the Green Revolution a large share of the human family is still chronically hungry. At the same time, investments in agricultural development by governments, international lenders, and foundations are at historic lows.

Recently, a new generation of innovative approaches to food production and hunger alleviation has emerged from farmers groups, private voluntary organizations, universities, and agribusiness companies.

The free, online symposium features a lineup of speakers won the theme of environmentally sustainable agriculture practices. They will explore what they envision as the steps required to create a sustainable food system.  The speakers include :

-Kathleen Merrigan, Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture

-David Beckmann, President, Bread for the World

-Hans Herren, President, Millennium Institute

-Christopher Flavin, President, Worldwatch Institute

-Sara Scherr, President and CEO, Ecoagriculture Partners

-Edward Mukiibi, Co-founder and Project Coordinator, Developing Innovations in School Cultivation (DISC), Uganda

-Sithembile Ndema, Natural Resources and Environment Manager, Food and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), South Africa

-Meera Shekar, Lead Health & Nutrition Specialist with the Human Development Network at the World Bank

-Stephanie Hanson, Director of Policy and Outreach, One Acre Fund


Audio and Video Callings

January 7, 2011

Back in December I was a guest here in Nebraska on the Lancaster County public access cable TV show, The Watchful Citizen. Interviewed by Barb Baier for a half hour, I had a chance to talk at length about The Call of the Land. The video clip below is the first of four clips; the others follow if you click through to youtube.


In December I also engaged in a spirited six-minute audio interview with Matthew Ferry. That interview, downloadable to mp3 players, is here steven-mcfadden-interview


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