Almost all of us have picked up a ripe tomato and admired its color, shape or smell, but how many of us think of where it came from? Most food today travels an average of 1,300 miles to get to our tables.
Imagine getting fresh, local produce directly from the farm, directly from the farmer, directly to you. A mutual commitment such as this, between a farm and a community of supporters, is called community supported agriculture, or CSA.
In a CSA, members make an investment in their local farmer’s operation at the beginning of the growing season, which ideally covers the farm’s operating expenses for the year. In return, CSA members receive a “share” of the farm’s harvest in the form of weekly produce for the 17 – 20 week growing season. The farmer and CSA members share in the risk and bounty of the harvest. Some CSAs involve a trip to the farm for pickup, and others deliver. Each CSA is as unique as the farm it supports.
What are the benefits of joining a CSA?
• CSAs help build communities by fostering a commitment to family farms.
• CSAs are an investment in our local economy.
• CSAs usually provide incentives for early payment, saving more money in the long run.
• CSAs offer convenience for those pursuing a healthier lifestyle.
• CSAs help the environment, by using more sustainable gardening practices.
• CSAs provide individuals and families with a connection to the earth.
Two new CSAs are taking root in Door County this year.
“Let us be your personal farmer,” says Meg Goettelman. She and her husband, Adam, and their three young sons Emmet, Jasper and Calvin, are the residents of Steep Creek Farm on Cty Hwy U in Sturgeon Bay. After settling into their homestead with several acres of arable land and wanting to spend more time as a family, Meg and Adam made the decision to start a CSA.
Meg is the driving force behind the garden work, with 12 years of experience, and already has a basement full of healthy seedlings for the season. She is growing over 45 varieties of veggies, herbs and berries without the use of chemical pesticides, herbicides, or inorganic fertilizers. Members of Steep Creek Farm CSA will be encouraged to visit the farm for produce pick up, though another convenient location will be made available.
In Northern Door County, Door-to-Door Local Harvest is just getting off the ground. Corinne Lea, a former business owner, has been gardening in Door County for over 10 years and now aspires to make gardening her way of life. With the use of several garden plots provided by family and friends, Lea grows mostly heirloom varieties without the use of chemicals.
Members of Door-to-Door will get their share delivered right to their home every week, and have the option of customizing their delivery.
“I want to make it a flexible program, because I know how busy it gets for Northern Door residents in the summer,” says Lea. “I am offering individual and family shares, deliveries weekly or every other week, and hope to be able to include additional items in my deliveries like bread and eggs.”
Lea is also working with other growers in the county to establish a delivery service to local restaurants.
“It is to our benefit when growers help each other and other businesses,” Lea says. “It makes our community stronger.”
It seems that’s what CSAs are all about – strengthening communities, one share at a time.
Steep Creek Farm and Door-to-Door Local Harvest will be represented at the Sustainability Fair at Gibraltar School in Fish Creek April 18. Potential members are welcome to obtain information from their booths at the fair. To learn more email Meg at [email protected] or Corinne at [email protected].