Farmer Geiger’s Thanksgiving Grace

November 16, 2013

tramplingI was there in New Hampshire a year ago in September 2012, just a few miles away when dairyman Lincoln Geiger was badly hurt by a trampling bull.  

That Sunday they airlifted him to a hospital in Boston to reckon with life-threatening injuries. But Lincoln’s spirit was strong and he moved through the wounds and the shock, and the many phases of recovery to come back to the land.

“I was given a new outlook on the world, Lincoln later explained, “by what I now call a form of initiation. My whole sense of reality shifted from an objective view of nature and the environmental movement, to a deeply caring heart-centered understanding.

“I now feel that the way to engage people to improve our world is with an intelligence that emanates through the heart. We need to ensoul nature and all its creatures and feel like guests, friends, or part of the familywhen in the presence of the forest or the garden or the herd. That is the attitude that comes from the warmth of the soul through the wisdom of the heart.”

From the very beginning Lincoln has been one of the core farmers at the remarkable Temple-Wilton Community Farm. One of the first two Community Supported Agriculture farms (CSAs) in America, it is still growing strong nearing thirty growing seasons.

In a blog post recounting his recent visit to the farm, Robert Karp of the Biodynamic Association noted that the Temple-Wilton Community Farm, “keeps showing the way” for thousands of other CSA farms across the nation and around the world.

Fawn - photo by Elfer courtesy of Creative Commons.

Fawn – photo by Elfer courtesy of Creative Commons.

A day-and-a-half before his fateful encounter with the bull, Lincoln came and sat beside me in the barn loft at Stonewall Farm Center, just west of Keene. He shared a grace with our conference of people talking about implementing greater food security for the Monadnock Region of New Hampshire.

Lincoln sat as part of a circle of 40 of us or so — all Twentyfirst Century agrarians alive with a sense of doing something foundationally important in the world. After dinner, to offer a blessing, he talked with us for about ten minutes.

He began by telling the story of how on a spring day he had climbed aboard the farm’s tractor and set about mowing the high fields. He never noticed the place in the deep grasses where a fawn lay hidden, and so to his dismay and anguish he found that the blades of his mower had badly injured the fawn.

Within two weeks he had hit four fawns and felt the deer were trying to teach him something monumental. “The day I hit the last fawn I was super alert to make sure there would be no accident.  I stood on the tractor platform the whole time I was mowing. About a third into the 10-acre field I saw a deer standing about 200 feet from me. I stopped the tractor, got off and noticed that the deer was looking at me and then looked down and then back at me.

“I felt right away that she was standing by her fawn. I turned off the tractor and headed straight towards the deer. She ran away, I kept walking and soon there in front of me lay a beautiful fawn. I just stood with it for a while, then I called my dairy partner Andrew and our apprentice Sara to come to the field with a cage or something to hold the fawn while I finished mowing.

“I picked up the fawn, it was totally calm and carried it to the bottom of the field. Andrew and Sara came but had no cage, they brought it into the Forrest and let it go. I kept on mowing and just as I was finishing the last couple of swaths, as I look back, there it is with its hoof cut off an inch up. I cried out loud, turned off the tractor and picked it up in my arms again. My heart was broken so bad I can’t tell you. I brought my little friend into the forest, I knew it would never make it. I laid it on a large stone and crushed its beautiful head with a rock.

“Then I cracked open inside and screamed loudly for the world to hear our pain and our love,” Lincoln told us. Time went by. To bring some light and healing to all that arose with the death of the fawns, to respond by giving some beauty back to the world, Lincoln wrote graces.

A year ago Lincoln spoke one of his graces aloud for the circle gathered at Stonewall Farm, just west of The Grand Monadnock:


Thank you Earth so soft and strong

Thank you meadow filled with song

Thank you mountain, forest and stream

By you we rest and find our dream

 

Thank you creatures wild and tame

Your trust we love and hope to gain

Thank you for your milk and fleece

And for your meat that we may eat

 

Thank you root and leaf and seed

We’ll not forget your wondrous deed

You hold the earth

You catch the rain

You fill the world with air again

 

Thank you wind for bringing rain

Please help our friends who are in pain

For us who thirst and cry from hunger

Please bring hope, life and wonder

 

Thank you moon for guidance and grace

For heart bent flowers

With dew drop lace

 

Thank you sun as day begins

For golden light

By angel wings

 

With thankful hearts

and open hands

     We ask to share your loving lands.

- Lincoln Geiger, Temple-Wilton Farm

As of Thanksgiving 2013, Lincoln writes: “I am well and full of living.” The Temple-Wilton Community Farm is also well and full of living, as attested to by yet another article about the farm’s place in the history and the destiny of the CSA movement, complete with some wonderful photos. The story – The First CSAs – is published on page 10 of the John Deere company magazine, The Furrow.

 


Mayan 2012 Kinship with the Land ~ Our Earth Mother is the Responsibility of All

December 13, 2012
Tzoodzil - Mt. Taylor, NM.

Tzoodzil – Mt. Taylor, New Mexico, USA.

In the early 1990s I met Don Alejandro Cirilo Perez of Guatemala. Then over the decades I had the fortune to travel with him in the Yucatan, in New England, and on the south flank of Tzoodzil, the sacred South Mountain of North America’s steadfast Four Corners.

In those times and places I had a chance to talk with Don Alejandro about the land, the earth, and some of the Mayan teachings concerning Winter Solstice, 2012.

A Daykeeper of the famous Mayan Calendar, the founder of several orphanages, and the leader of the National Council of Elders Mayas, Xinca and Garifuna of Guatemala, Don Alejandro is a 13th generation Quiche Maya elder. In our conversations he revealed a generous measure of insight concerning the way things are with the land and the people.

My interviews with Don Alejandro eventually got wrapped in as part of a concise 40-page eBook I published three years ago: Tales of the Whirling Rainbow: Authentic Myths & Mysteries for 2012. Now, as the 2012 turning point on the Mayan Calendar arrives, it’s time to re-articulate some key parts of that message.

Don Alejandro

Don Alejandro

As with all traditional native elders north, south, east or west, Don Alejandro regards the earth as mother. Among the oldest traditions of the Americas, it is understood that men and women of honor treat their earth mother – Tierra Madre – with respect and consideration. That kind of respectful perception and relation with the land and the earth arises primarily out of contemplation.

Don Alejandro spoke then and speaks now, of a prophesied evolutionary transition to a New Sun (Era) — the Shift of the Ages described in the Mayan calendars with the date of December 21, 2012 given as a focal point.

Don Alejandro said that indigenous cultures around the world hold in their oral traditions an understanding that civilizations have risen on earth many times in the past, and then fallen. These civilizations fell apart, he said, primarily because they developed and employed technology without wisdom or respect for nature. Then the natural world became profoundly unbalanced.

“Once again,” Don Alejandro told me, “we are in a period of time when technology dominates life and is generally being applied without wisdom.

“Big changes are coming in this frame of time. All the elders know that. That’s why it’s important to talk now and to remind people to respect Mother Earth, and to stop destroying the water, air, land, and mountains.

“Arise. Awaken,” he said. “This is the dawn of a new time. The life of the Planet Earth is the responsibility of all.”

Among other things, Winter Solstice 2012 marks a widening awareness of this basic understanding about the land, Don Alejandro reckoned, and also a deepening appreciation of its importance.


Cracks in the Land

August 23, 2012

“Our farmers and ranchers have never faced as many problems as they do today with drought, range fires, high gas prices…”
- Michael McCau

My cracked lawn.

The land is dry and cracking across the heart of America. Drought is the natural cracker, shriveling everything up till there are gaps that demand radical shifts for underground pipes and construction footings, doubtless as well for all forms of subterranean life.  Then there are mournful, moanful cracks in the land from the massively arrogant and suicidal impulse of industrial-scale fracking in a time of profound earth changes. Foundational cracks abound on planes both inner and outer.

Each day as I open my back door and step out into the world I see this inescapably. I’m confronted with a crazy quilt pattern of cracked land where once had been a lawn. It’s a troubling sight. Here at home all 93 of Nebraska’s vast, sprawling counties have been declared disaster areas because of the drought. Late August now, and the forecasters say we may not get substantial rain until Halloween.

Our U.S. Midwestern drought — impacting over 62% of the entire nation — is having and will have  global consequences: “People in wealthy industrialized countries spend between 10 to 20 per cent of their income on food. Those in the developing world pay between 50 to 80 per cent of their income. According to Oxfam, a one per cent jump in the price of food results in 16 million more people crashing into poverty — accelerating what global agriculture ministers call The Spiral of Hunger.

Meanwhile, with at least one more long month of melting to go for the Arctic Sea Ice, the pace of heat-driven destruction to our North is staggering in proportion. Behold this brief composite animation. It’s a must see. Just about every record has been shattered, with a month more of melting to come.

Watching the world’s larger patterns unfold like this is profoundly unsettling, and can be unbalancing as well without some active, creative initiative to respond to the urgent call of the land.

Proactive response is a key element of 21st Century Agrarianism, and thousands upon thousands of people and communities are responding dynamically, helping to establish healthy new footings and foundations on the land as ballast and complement to the surging waves of digital culture. What is needed now — in this extreme state — is positive creative response from millions upon millions of people.

If you are among those who will no longer ignore the call of the land, then here is one place to initiate a response: to become informed, to find ways to cultivate the land to restore its health and beauty, as well to grow clean food for yourself, your family, and your community. Check out the possibilities.


Food Coops 2012 Growing Strong

July 7, 2012

Coop members march the streets of Philadelphia on the way to the first ever public reading of the Declaration of Rights for America’s Food Coops. Photo by S. McFadden

As the summer Sun began scorching in earnest, I traveled to Philadelphia for the 56th annual conference of  the Consumer Cooperative Management Association (CCMA). That’s the group that networks 128 of America’s food coops.

Owned independently by their local citizens in cities and towns across the nation, food coops are a major web of market nodes in the overall good food movement. For decades, food coops have provided a principal connection between families who want clean, chemical-free food and the stalwart network of sustainable organic farmers who provide it.

In mid-June representatives from the independent coops gathered together to talk, to walk, and to make a declaration concerning coops, corporations, and the context of our era. Here are some of my notes from the gathering.

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Marion Nestle, long-time nutrition activist and author of several influential books including Food Politics, gave a keynote address on the final day of the conference. “There is a global food crisis right now,” Nestle told  us, “with one in seven people on the earth already hungry.” It looks as if the global food crisis will continue to intensify in the years immediately ahead. She said we would likely see the crisis play out not just with overseas famines, but also domestically in cost, volatility, availability.

The mounting clouds of the global food crisis that Nestle pointed out to us have been becoming increasingly evident in news stories, such as this July example from Bloomberg Business Week: Drought Stalks the Global Food Supply.

“Hunger and malnutrition are social problems,” Nestle told us, “and that is one of the reasons why food coops are so important. Coops are a viable alternative to Big Food. Because coops are both community-based and value based, they make a point of selling clean, healthy, nutritious food.”

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Michael Sansolo, a marketing consultant, also gave a keynote address. Sansolo said that conventional markets see that the movement now and over the next 30 years is toward organic, sustainable foods. Food coops have led the way for the last 40 years, but now profit-focused food corporations are in the mix and bringing their values to bear. As the NY Times reports, organic food has become “a wildly lucrative business for Big Food and a premium-price-means-premium-profit section of the grocery store.”

The theme of Sansolo’s talk was that there are, in his view, three central challenges now faced by everyone who is involved with the market for food: economics, demographics, and technology.

During the Q & A session after Sansolo’s talk a man rose to urge that he add a fourth challenge to his presentation: the natural environment. The environment is changing fast, the man said. Along with economics, demographics, and technology, coops had best take that that reality into account.

In his remarks Sansolo said that the notion of community has changed radically with technology in recent years. The face of America is shifting. It is already way more diverse. Also, we are seeing in all economic sectors the rise of women.  Women are stepping into leadership roles, especially in the food sector.  He advised that food coops and other initiatives actively reach out to a younger, multicultural base. “That’s where the future is,” he said.

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A coop member dressed as Ben Franklin reads the coop declaration of rights.

Ben Franklin initiated the first coop in America back in 1752 right in Philadelphia, the city where we had gathered 260 years later to size things up, and make plans for going forward cooperatively toward meeting a triple bottom line of economic, environmental, and social benefit.

A common experience for participants in the coop conference, and one I certainly experienced this year, is the realization that my local coop in Lincoln, Nebraska — Open Harvest — is but one node in a wide and growing network of food coops in North America and around the world — continuing to make creative progress as ethics-based businesses.

Another strong wave of coop development is currently underway. At the conference we heard that about 300 new food coops that are trying to get it together this year. However, Marilyn Scholl, a consultant with the CDS Consulting Coop, told me that if 20-30 of these new coop initiatives make it and actually establish themselves, that will be a strong outcome.

Colombia University professor Dr. Gary Dorrien has defined cooperatives as the foundation of economic democracy. They “extend the values & rights of democracy into the economic sphere…and create environmentally sustainable economies.”

Paul Hazen, former President and CEO of the National Cooperative Business Association and now ED of the Overseas Coop Development Council, commented that we are at a moment of profound consumer unrest and searching.

“Many are recognizing,” Hazen said, “that coops are a better kind of corporation…Right now the ‘free market’ is not meeting the needs of the people for clean, healthy, affordable food. That is where coops fill an important niche, because coops are value-led businesses. The economic and political momentum is swinging in our direction…Coops are a key to attaining food security.”


Food Coop Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia

June 9, 2012

With a fife and drum corps leading the way, representatives of over 350 of America’s food coops will march through the streets of Philadelphia on Friday, June 15, 2012.

When the marchers arrive at the Liberty Bell, a representative of the Cooperative Constitutional Convention dressed as Benjamin Franklin will speak about the founding of the first American cooperative.

Then will come the first ever public reading of a Declaration of Rights for America’s Food Cooperatives.

The proposed coop declaration — intended as a historic break from hierarchical business practices that are destructive of the land and human beings — echoes the original US Declaration of Independence throughout, but articulates the seven key coop principles along the way.

The US food coop declaration begins “… We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness and that, central to that happiness, is citizen engagement, economic empowerment, access to healthy foods and good health…”

Coming as it does in the context of the UN’s 2012 International Year of the Coop, the Declaration of Rights by US Food Coops may resonate widely.  The US food coops — owned by their local members in cities and towns across the nation — are a major network of market nodes in the overall good food movement.  That’s significant

Representing Open Harvest Natural Foods Cooperative in Lincoln, Nebraska, my colleague Michael Henry and I will be on the scene in Philadelphia. We will bring back the good food news.


Mythic Teachings of Our Land: New ebook tells the Legend of the Rainbow Warriors

May 30, 2012

Here is one way of expressing America’s ancient teachings in a soundbite suitable for the digital age: ‘There will come a time when the Earth grows sick. When it does a tribe will gather from all the cultures of the world who believe in peaceful deeds and not words. They will work to heal the land…they will be known as the Warriors of the Rainbow.’

Over the centuries many of the elders of the Americas have dreamed that people of all colors and faiths would come together on the land and heal the earth.

In contemplating these legends while working in the agrarian realm, I’ve always felt that these mythic notions are in many ways what the good-food, community-food movement is about. It’s not just providing clean food so people might have strong bodies and minds, but also about right relations, and about directly involving people in healing the earth — or otherwise inspiring them to empower ambassadors (farmers and gardeners) to touch and heal the earth on their behalf.

In the way I have learned from the elders, we do not speak of these stories as prophecies, but rather we refer to them as understandings or teachings. The stories originate from many sources, arising from a great number visionary elders of the Americas, figures such as Black Elk, Weetucks, White Buffalo Calf Woman, Quetzalcoatl, Crazy Horse, White Shell Woman, and Eyes of Fire. The understandings have been passed on through the generations to the present with meticulous care, and they continue to inspire hope, vision, and positive action among the people.

Thus, it seemed to me auspicious when earlier this week The Harlem Writers Guild announced the release of a new ebook version of one of my early works that weaves together a great many of these teachings, Legend of the Rainbow Warriors.

Legend of the Rainbow Warriors is a true, carefully researched nonfiction account of these key pluralistic myths and mysteries of the Americas. As critics have noted it’s also an electrifying exploration of how those archetypal teachings are resounding through real time upon the land as we approach the signal date of December 21, 2012.

I’m pleased to add my words in echo to the publisher’s announcement: Legend of the Rainbow Warriors is now available for immediate download in an array of ebook formats — and print editions — from either  iUniverse.com  or Amazon.com

BOOK REVIEWS
“I urge everyone…to read this small yet exceptionally powerful book.” – Odyssey Magazine

“This is one of those books…once you’ve read it you will wonder what you had been thinking of the world before that time. It is informative, inspirational, wise and genuinely important.” – One Heart

“…McFadden offers insight and hope. Further, he speaks to the power of individuals to address the overwhelming and complex problems facing us today—locally as well as globally.” - Headline Muse

“An extraordinary book. We recommend that it be read by all college students and their professors who are concerned about future life on earth. – Cynthia Knuth, FONA

“…you will want to reread it often and keep it handy for reference… Although the prophecies were made many years ago, they ring true for those who are living in today’s world.” - Amazon customer


The Howl of the Land

March 23, 2012

Listening by Amy Lehr Miller

The land is well beyond calling. It’s howling. Howling so loud it cannot be ignored. Around the world.

This ear-ringing reality came to the forefront today on the pages of The New York Times in a story headlined, “When the ground goes bump in the night.”

The story reports on events taking place in Clintonville, Wisconsin. “Police here have received hundreds of calls this week from citizens awakened by noises that they said seem to be coming from under the earth.

“At times,” the Times reported, the nocturnal noise is “like someone banging on the pipes in the basement, while at other times it was so loud that windows rattled and the ground jolted.”

“There’s something radically wrong with this earth,” Verda Shultz, 47, told the Times.

The unexplained noise in Wisconsin is just one of many such occurrences in recent news. The Huffington Post published a report on several other notable cases from around the world. In that report speculation on the cause of the noise ranged from UFOs to tectonic earth shifts to UFOs, to hoaxes, to widespread industrial-scale  hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which the US Geological Survey has confirmed absolutely causes earthquakes, to possibly the USA’s ongoing, provocatively pulsating HAARP project as it is situated in the north direction. Across the Internet, a  swelling mass of webpages and YouTube videos echo the disturbing sounds that are being heard around the globe.

As I hear the noise — whether it originates from the distress in the earth or from the distress in human souls operating occult technology —  the call of the land has attained an extreme level. It’s howling. The land — our earth — requires our intelligent, respectful, heartfelt and ongoing responses.

Renowned Mayan elder and Daykeeper Don Alejandro Cirilo Perez long ago shared his view concerning foundational native understandings for calendar year 2012 and the general tenor of our era: “Big changes are coming in this frame of time. That’s why it’s important to talk now and tell people to respect Mother Earth, and to stop destroying the water, air, and mountains…”


Unraveling the CSA Number Conundrum

January 9, 2012

In the beginning it was easy to count. The year was 1986, and there were only two Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) initiatives in the USA: Indian Line Farm in western Massachusetts, and the Temple-Wilton Community Farm in southern New Hampshire. But not long after that, as the CSA concept spread across America and around the world, the number of farms became a bit of an enigma.

No one was ever quite sure how many CSAs there were. The federal government didn’t track the number; at the same time, for a variety of reasons, many CSAs wanted little to do with government or larger systems.

Now however, thanks to several sources, it’s possible to gain a fair idea. Estimating conservatively, there are currently over 6,000 CSAs in the US, possibly as many as 6,500. Meanwhile, the trend of growth continues onward and upward.

I arrived at this estimate after contacts with a range of knowledgeable sources, including Erin Barnett of LocalHarvest, CSA author Elizabeth Henderson, Professor Ryan Galt at UC-Davis, Jill Auburn, Senior Advisor for the USDA’s Ag Systems, and others. No one specifically cited the 6-6,500 number — but after considering all the expert input alongside my own observations, it’s a number that seems about right.

CSA farms and the networks they establish are in so many ways a positive, creative response to the swift and fundamental changes taking place in the world, in our food, and in the way the land is held and treated. CSAs are becoming a significant alternative to the industrial agrifood system. For many reasons, their steady proliferation over the last 26 years is noteworthy.

Alternative Visions

Back in 2006 I had an opportunity to speak at the Kettunen Center in Michigan at a conference marking the first 20 years of CSA in the US. As part of the talk I offered alternative visions of the next 20 years.

On the hopeful side it was possible to envision CSAs prospering in virtually every town and city: providing people with clean food, enabling dignified work for growers, building healthy community relationships, and establishing oases of environmental health.

On the shadow side it was possible to envision a totalitarian ordering and tightening coming about in all sorts of systems. Clean food and direct farmer-household connections might well be encumbered with harsh, unreasonable rules, requirements and regulations, and thereby quietly, steadily marginalized. I could picture a time when industrial processed food was the only “officially safe and allowable” option, and the good food movement had been demonized, strangled and driven underground.

Back in 2006, even I had to wonder whether I wasn’t stretching my nightmare vision a bit too far into the realm of paranoid hyperbole. But now in 2012, in the light of ongoing trends and events, it no longer seems so far-fetched.

Within this context, one of the many intriguing aspects of CSA came home to me again when I reflected on a passage from Chapter 13 of Michael Pollan’s, The Omnivore’s Dilemma. He notes therein that the Soviet state foundered on the issue of food. The government sacrificed millions of small farms and farmers to the dream of a vast system of collectivized industrial agriculture. But the state’s imperious industrial ag plans soured and foundered.

“By the time of its collapse,” Pollan wrote, “more than half of the food consumed in the Soviet Union was being produced by small farmers and home gardeners operating without official sanction, on private plots…”

He goes on to report what he heard while interviewing American farmer George Naylor: “…during our conversations about industrial agriculture, he [Naylor] likened the rise of alternative food chains in America to ‘the last days of Soviet agriculture.’ The centralized food system wasn’t serving the people’s needs, so they went around it. The rise of farmer’s markets and CSA is sending the same signal today.”

CSA Waves

An estimated 60 CSAs had come into being in the USA by 1990. That’s the year the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association (BDA) published the first book on the subject, Farms of Tomorrow: Community Supported Farms, Farm Supported Communities by Trauger Groh and me. The activity of the BDA, the book, and the advocacy of Robyn Van En, helped spur growth through the 1990s so that by the year 2000 the number of CSA in the US was perhaps 1,000.

In the latter part of the 1990s and the first decade of the new millennium, the impetus from the developing local food movement and from economic uncertainties helped grow the number of CSAs. Two other factors played an important role: the publication of Sharing the Harvest in 1998, and the establishment of LocalHarvest.com, a website hub for local food.

Sharing the Harvest: A Guide to Community Supported Agriculture by Elizabeth Henderson and Robyn Van En brought the story of CSA to a diverse audience, and inspired many to take a step in a new direction economically, environmentally, and socially. The book was widely acclaimed and eventually translated into several languages, including Japanese and Chinese. For an increasing number of households, CSA was being recognized as an effective response to the globalization of the food supply.

Shortly thereafter the website LocalHarvest went online in 2000 and became a key resource for the buy local movement. The website is a searchable directory of CSAs, farmers markets, and other local food sources.

Eventually, in 2007 the federal government took a crack at a national count of CSAs through a question on the Agricultural Census. They came up with the number of 12,549. That stunned most observers. It was more than three times greater than anyone had imagined.

Ryan Galt, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Agricultural Sustainability and Society at UC-Davis, was among those surprised by the USDA estimate. He noted a wide discrepancy between CSA counts by LocalHarvest, the internet hub with the most comprehensive CSA listing (2,932 at the time) and the ag census number (12,549). He set out to study the matter using a critical cartography/GIS approach and multiple CSA data sets.

His research in this and related matters led to a couple of well researched and highly informative papers on CSA. Galt observed that significant overcounting of CSAs by the 2007 ag census likely occurred because of ambiguity in the relevant question. The ag census, as read by many, seemed to be asking how many farms are, to one extent or another, involved with CSA, rather than how many farms are in fact actual CSAs.

After applying his analytical tools, Galt arrived at an estimate of 3,637 CSAs nationally for the year 2009. While he reckoned that this was a more reliable estimate than the census data, he noted that his number was based on extrapolating from California to the nation. This could be problematic, he cautions readers, because of differences in land rent, structure, political orientations, and other factors.

By now, of course it’s 2012, not 2009. By all accounts, CSA has continued to proliferate. The growth has been spurred by a deepening crisis of confidence in Big Ag, Big Food and Big Chem, by a sharper sense of economic and environmental uncertainty, and as always by ideals, including a deeply rooted desire to eat clean and healthy, and to do something positive for the earth.

According to director Erin Barnett, as of January 2012 LocalHarvest had 4,571 active CSAs listed in their directory. With ten years experience observing the scene, she estimates that the LocalHarvest listings include about 65-70% of all the CSAs in the US. She and her colleagues also feel that their directory’s growth rate over the years has tended to mirror the growth rate of CSAs in general.

If one accepts the 4,571 active listings on LocalHarvest as representing approximately 70% of the total number of CSAs, then it could be posited that there are, in fact, well over 6,500 active CSAs. But allowing for unknowable fudge factors, and because I prefer to choose an estimate on the conservative side, I am — till further informed — going with the 6-6,500 range.

 CSA Prospects

In his research papers Professor Galt writes convincingly that he sees the likelihood that CSA will continue to grow and develop. “Community supported agriculture (CSA) stands as an important social invention to address many of the problems of industrial agriculture,” he notes. He describes CSA is a bright spot in the current economy.

Jill Auburn, the former director of SARE, currently the USDA’s Senior Advisor for Ag Systems and Acting Director Office of the Chief Scientist, observes that in general CSAs are continuing to grow and develop. “I’ve not studied the numbers,” she said, “but looking through the lens of USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food program, we see that local and regional markets overall are continuing to grow…We see lots of increasing interest.”

Author Elizabeth Henderson also sees growth, and not just in the US. In 2010 she gave a talk entitled “The World of CSA” at a conference held in Kobe, Japan. She said that what she sees globally is that in some countries CSA is catching on at breathtaking rate. She notes that CSA has found acceptance in Canada, France, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Italy, England, Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, and China. She also noted that in Japan, CSA (Teikei) has become a mature movement with millions of members.

The conference Henderson spoke at was organized by URGENCI, an international network of participants focused on community supported agriculture. They provide informational resources for CSA initiatives worldwide with the intention of contributing to the food sovereignty movement. Henderson notes that URGENCI has brought CSA to Eastern Europe and North Africa, notably Mali and Morocco.

“For whatever reason,” LocalHarvest’s Erin Barnett told me, “whether it’s the economy or the availability of oil, how crops are grown and where, or whatever, people will very likely be turning to their neighbors for a network of support. That’s where CSA stands right now as a wise response.”

In the overall context of 2012, of the burgeoning Occupy movement, and of the ongoing emergence of CSA, some words that Trauger Groh and I wrote in Farms of Tomorrow back in 1990 still resonate. “CSA is not just another clever, new approach to marketing for farmers,” we wrote. “Rather, community farming is about the necessary renewal of agriculture through its healthy linkage with the human community that depends upon farming for survival. From experience we also see the potential of community farming as the basis for a renewal of the human relationship with the earth.”


The Whirling Rainbow Year of 2012

January 1, 2012

For an understanding of how traditional Daykeepers and native elders of North America regard our land as we move toward the end of the Mayan calendar on Dec. 21, 2012, check out my ebook Tales of the Whirling Rainbow: Authentic Myths & Mysteries for 2012. It is a swift, powerful and penetrating look at our current era from the vantage of the wisdom traditions that have been anchored on this land for 20,000 years or more. It explores how those teachings may bear upon the present, agrarian and otherwise. You can read the ebook on any Smartphone, iPad, Nook, Kindle, computer, or whatever — 10 different eformats.

Further along the trail I was interviewed not too long ago  by Lyn Goldberg on her radio show about the 2012 end of the Mayan calendar on December 21, 2012, and the boundless range of traditional understandings associated with our personal and planetary pilgrimage through the years ahead. You can listen to or download the interview.

Review from Amazon.com: “Tales of the Whirling Rainbow is a stunningly powerful little book. It puts the whole 2012 story in a new, more authentic, and vastly richer and more hopeful context. By seeking out the traditional keepers of medicine wisdom for our era, and having traveled the road of adventure with them, Steven McFadden has assembled a matrix of powerfully intersecting tales, all true and all with immediate relevance. I loved this amazing little ebook.”


Kickstarting an Audiobook to Tell True Tales

July 27, 2011

I’ve launched a Kickstarter project to enable me to make a short, powerful, professionally recorded audio book of Tales of the Whirling Rainbow: Authentic Myths & Mysteries for 2012. Check the project out by following this link.

You can support the project not just with a donation, but also by sharing it on Facebook, Twitter, and so forth.

Tales of the Whirling Rainbow is a true account of some of the key spiritual mysteries of North America and the land that supports all life. It’s also an arresting exploration of how those mysteries are resounding through real time.

Earlier this year I wrote the nonfiction stories as an e-book. But now I want to record the tales as an audio book and MP3 file for iPods, iPads, Smart Phones, any computer or digital audio player, and also on CD — so people can hear the tales told in a range of formats.


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