Historic CSA Farm Charter set for USA & Canada

February 10, 2017

I’m pleased to share this press release, just developed by a community of people who recognize the importance of community farms (CSAs), and who see the potential for enhancing our environment, improving our diets, supporting our local farmers, and cooperating for mutual benefit with our neighbors. ~ SM

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms across the United States and Canada are setting roots more deeply in the land as they unite this year under a community-developed Charter for CSAs that provides a clear definition of what CSA farms are all about.

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CSA Charter logo by Ruth Blackwell

After just 30 years of development, over 7,500 healthy, sustainable community farms have been established in the US, and many thousands more in Canada. These sustainable farms are directly networked with hundreds of thousands of households in the towns and cities where they are based and provide weekly shares of fresh, healthy, locally-grown food.

Together, regional networks and independent CSAs in the USA and Canada are banding together to launch an innovative and strengthening Charter for CSAs. The Charter will be inaugurated on CSA Sign-up Day, February 24, 2017.

CSAs that endorse the Charter are making a public commitment to uphold the principles and practices delineated in the Charter. It will provide a window of transparency for member households and for farmers, helping define and clarify what CSA farms are all about.

In the words of Elizabeth Henderson, CSA farmer and author of Sharing the Harvest, “CSA is a tremendously flexible concept for consumer-farmer connections. It’s an alternative system of distribution based on community values. The economics of direct sales make this a win-win solution for farmers and farm members. The farmer gets a decent price and the member pays less, since there is no middleman.”

“For the farmer,” she added, “CSA offers the possibility of a broad support group. Those groups are composed of local people who know about the farm, who genuinely care about it’s survival, and who are willing to share the farmer’s risks and rewards.

“In reciprocity, CSA farm members have the opportunity to eat fresh, healthy food, to connect with the earth, to know and trust in the people who grow their food, to deepen their understanding of seasonal eating, to support the local economy, and to take an empowered stance of accepting responsibility for one of our most basic needs.”

Anthony Graham, a farmer for 30 years at the Temple-Wilton Community Farm in New Hampshire, said, “When we started the Temple Wilton Community Farm, we were interested in community and in the ‘culture’ of agriculture. What we were attempting to set up was a way for a community of people to support the existence of a farm through good times and bad by making pledges of financial support over the course of one year. By agreeing to support the existence of the farm our members became co-farmers.”

You can find the full Charter for CSAs in the USA and Canada here, along with background information and a list of the CSAs that endorse it. For more information, contact Elizabeth Henderson, elizabethhenderson13@gmail.com.

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CSA Farms as a Sober Response to Political & Climate Chaos

February 4, 2017

I’ve written this message often before, and I shall write it again. Community Farms (CSAs) are a sober and intelligent response to accelerating political and climate turbulence. Economic turbulence may follow. Time to act.

orward-001Regarding our overall situation as urgent, I’ve reported extensively about the ominously active factors bearing upon us all & the potentials of positive community action in collaboration with local farms. I’ve also recorded a ½-hour narrated slide show on these issues for Youtube (Awakening Community Intelligence) freely available to all for personal or community education.

Now at the start of February, we are just a few weeks away from national CSA Signup Day, Friday, February 24. It is a golden opportunity for existing CSA farms to expand the community that supports what they are doing: clean land, clean food, enhanced local food security.

CSA Signup Day is also a golden opportunity for communities – neighborhoods, workplaces, churches and temples, suburbs, and so forth – to get busy building community farms right now, by the hundreds of thousands. It takes time to get a community farm together, but they can make a big stabilizing difference.

In conjunction with CSA Signup Day, February 24 will be marked by the launch of a CSA Charter, which will set out the principles and practices that guide CSA farms in the USA and Canada. In my view, that’s a big step forward for evolving the community farm web in North America, in a time when big steps are immediately needed.
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Intelligent, strategic responses to political, economic, social & climate turbulence

January 2, 2017

My intention with the half-hour Youtube offering below is to present CSA farms to the public in the context of the severe turbulence now afoot in politics, economics, social structure, and climate change. I regard CSA farms as intelligent and strategic responses to all these hard realities.

My hope is that the slide show lecture, which is freely available, will be used to help strengthen community food initiatives around the Americas, and especially help to engage many more new people. We are going to need many more strong, vibrant local food systems, and we need them now.


McFadden: Farms can be cornerstones for communities

December 16, 2015

The Country Today, a newspaper based in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, published a nice story this week about the keynote talk I gave there in Early December. Here’s a link to the story.

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Consilience Enhances Resilience

December 15, 2015

My essay on this word play and its significance for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is now posted at Mother Earth News.

Consilience


Community Farmers Convene in America’s Heartland

November 11, 2015

For dozens of reasons, it’s time to convene in America’s heartland a conference of farmers involved in Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA).

Thanks to the artful community collaboration of 15 farm organizations* – anchored by the Wisconsin Farmers Union – just such a gathering will happen December 3-4, 2015, in Eau Claire, Wisconsin: The Midwest CSA Conference: Moving Forward Together

…CSA is a unique model and thus deserves it’s own special gathering every couple of years to refresh the vision. Are CSA farms just a passing agrarian fantasy, or can they serve as enduring cornerstones for community and ecosystem renewal in our region and beyond? CSA is continuing to evolve as a resilient model in an era of rapid change…

At the conference I will have an opportunity to give a keynote talk: Awakening Community Intelligence: CSA Farms as 21st Century Cornerstones.

The rest of the story about the CSA conference is here in my blog for Mother Earth News.

CSA USE


Climate Change and the Power of Community

October 7, 2015

I wrote out a quick question on a slip of paper, and sent it on to the moderator last night as Bill McKibben of 350.org finished his lecture for the E.N.Thompson Forum in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Bill McKibben. Image from UBC via Creative Commons.

Bill McKibben. Image from UBC via Creative Commons.

“What about the role of industrial agriculture in climate change?” I wrote. A few minutes later the moderator posed the question to McKibben, who had a ready answer.

Industrial agriculture is a factor in global warming, he said, contributing about 18% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. “That needs to change,” he added.

McKibben said that all through the Holocene Epoch (the last 12,00 years) we human beings have been able to count on the basic stability of habitable conditions that allow agriculture. There have always been good years and bad years in one place or another, but the basic pattern has been stable.

“We can’t count on that any more,” McKibben said. “Climate change is biting harder and faster than we thought…It’s going to impact our ability to grow food.”

As McKibben was speaking the waters were still rising in the epic South Carolina flood catastrophe brought on by the whiplash of Hurricane Joaquin, and 2015 was decidedly on track to be the hottest year in recorded history.

“The disaster in South Carolina is off the charts,” he said, “but that kind of stuff is happening somewhere in the world every day now. And we are just getting started…We’re not going to stop global warming. It’s too late for that. But if we act fast enough and decisively enough, we may slow it enough to survive.”

McKibben said this is a beautiful moment for agriculture because for the first time in 150 years the number of farms is going up, not down. He commented that a lot of young people are seeing that the vocation of sustainable farming can help them address climate change by reducing ag emissions through agroecological approaches and improving the soil health so that it absorbs CO2.

In concluding his lecture McKibben observed that for years we have emphasized the importance of taking individual actions – such as using energy efficient light bulbs, riding bikes, and installing solar panels – as a way of countering climate change. “But that’s not going to do it,” he said. “It’s just not enough to stop climate change. Climate change causes are structural and systemic, and now pose the greatest threat of all time to human life.”

tpHe said climate change is requiring us to come together in a movement. “The power of community is the theme of the year ahead…Community is one of the best manifestations of being a human being. We are social creatures. We derive a great deal of satisfaction in working with each other toward a common end.”

McKibben and 350.org will be in Paris this December with a massive community of activists working toward a common end by sending a message to the world governments meeting for COP21 to try to strike a new global climate agreement. That message will be, “make this a turning point.”

In the aftermath of McKibben’s lecture, no doubt because it is the central topic commanding my attention these days, I saw again how important Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) can be in the context of climate change. CSA creates pathways for all manner and shapes of communities to apply themselves in support of the kind of agroecological healing of the land that will, indeed, make this a turning point. It’s time for Awakening Community Intelligence.


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