Big agriculture is a disaster that is happening in slow motion every year. It destroys the countryside, destroys the soil, destroys diversity, and is now more than ever becoming GMO modified.
So what we’ve done is join the strike back against this by supporting local community agriculture.
It’s something I’ve done for a few years now, I want to talk to you about my own experiences, explain exactly what community agriculture and having shares in it consists of (it’s not like shares in the stock market), and tell you a bit about the future as well.
What Do We Mean By Local Community Agriculture?
Community supported agriculture was first fully developed in the north-eastern United States way back in the 1980s. It was influenced by European agricultural ideas that were imported by pioneers in Germany and France.
Your local farmer could be you, or it could be me. It could be anyone with the land and time to produce high quality crops. They don’t have the big either, it just means you can only have small shares.
The thing is, there’s a lot of risk and uncertainty in producing food. Harsh weather, climate change, food price fluctuations, the pressure of big business, and unforeseen circumstances like pandemics (which have actually dramatically improved the prices of local produce because people are more and more avoiding congregating at supermarkets).
But if you want proper food, organic agriculture that is not GMO modified, then the way forward it seems to be getting membership in a community supported agriculture scheme.
How it works is that a network of community members buys into the farmers crops. They literally receive a regular share of the yields, basically, the crops that are grown.
You pledge to support the individual farmer financially with an upfront financial payment, so that they have the security in knowing that if yields are low, that they won’t face financial ruin. Between the group of you, you share that burden, good or bad. In times of abundance you get a bumper share, when the yields are lower, then obviously you get less for your payment.
CSA members, or subscribers, will pay upfront at the start of the growing season for share of the harvest yields. So although there are parameters, it is a slight gamble, but you are investing in a community project that benefits many.
Once harvesting is actually going on, you will receive weekly shares of the fruit and vegetables, or other crops. Don’t think of it just in terms of crops and fruit though. It’s becoming more diverse nowadays, with herbs, eggs, honey, dairy products, and even meat now part of these schemes around the country.
My Experiences With Community Supported Agriculture
So a couple of years ago I signed up for a single term with a local community supported agriculture project.
It was an organic farm that was located in a large back yard, and as profits grew, it spread around the local area. Fully organic, and certified, it was the perfect thing for us to invest in.
Every week of the year we get something. Let me tell you about a single week in the high summer last year. We picked up a huge box with a weeks’ worth of vegetables, meat, dairy products, and a selection of fruit. It was far more than you could buy at the supermarket for anywhere near what we paid. The flavors, the freshness, was just not like anything you will get at the supermarket either. So we benefited from a large yield, but that may not happen every year.
You’re also getting more diverse crops as well. Genres and breeds that you just can’t buy in the large chains.
You can see what’s coming on a dedicated website, as you can get an idea of what’s being grown, and what your share will be. It allows you to plan domestically for shopping and food preparation.
If you’re not well off, you can support them by volunteering for a time helping as farm labor. You pitch in, and you get your weekly share that way instead. So even if you don’t have much money, there’s no reason why you and your family can’t benefit from fantastic quality natural food.
Is There Any Downside To Community Agriculture?
So the benefits of CSA are cheap prices were high quality produce, regular deliveries, and you can support the projects and benefit even if you don’t have the money to buy a share at the start of the growing season.
You’ll usually get fresh produce every single week of the year, which means you’re always benefiting from what is being grown.
On the downside, it can be quite expensive. If you can’t do the labor for free, then it can be quite middle-class then, and people always looking for ways to make it more accessible to people who don’t have much money or time.
The downside is also with some of the farmers. Especially the smaller ones, the yields are so low in comparison to what is being paid, especially in a poor growing season, that profits are small. It’s been found that many community farmers get a far lower profit margin than the large industrial “big agra” farmers. That’s obviously going to put many people off unless it’s a labor of love.
So it’s really only going to benefit communities where community led farmers can grow enough crops, and offer enough diversity that whatever the yields in certain areas, they can make enough to deliver the shares, and it has to be in a local area where people have the money, or time, to make sure everyone benefits.
The Future Of Community Agriculture Looks Bright
But generally, the future of community agriculture does look bright. People are coming more aware of food diversity importance, and how good quality food can really benefit the health and longevity.
It’s also about fighting back against big agriculture, the destruction of our resources, and huge companies producing awful quality products just for the benefit of their shareholders, not caring about what people actually consume.
But to change the food systems, we have to change our habits both in terms of buying food and consuming it.
I urge you to look for a community supported agriculture scheme in your area, and just give it a try for one year. You’ll get fantastic quality produce, and maybe dairy and meat products, every single week, and you can get to participate in a fantastic community project that can bring people closer together, and fight back against the evils of mass production.