Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The CSA meet up

Last night Herb and I went to a church downtown to hear about the upcoming offerings of CSA farmers in our area. It was a meeting of potential customers and hopeful growers, all intent on connecting to buy locally grown, hopefully certified organic, fresh and wholesome food by the farm supporting "subscription" method.

The manager of the Flint Farmer's Market, Dick Ramsdell, should be thanked for arranging the meeting. A few of the growers are actual vendors at the market, but he offers us all the market as a central meeting place to drop off and pick up our shares. It is wholly a thing that he thinks should be done, to introduce urban consumers who have lost contact with their food source to the actual people who make their living by producing our food, and he arranged this meeting on that principle, with or without the profit motive for the market.
He did mention that the fresh local idea is growing so well he is hearing about more vendors building hoop houses so that we can have fresh local greens in the winter soon.

I took plenty of notes, but didn't really need to, as I planned to re-subscribe to Whetham Farms' CSA considering our good experience last year. Three of my gardening friends, Mel and Bonnie and her husband Chuck, are joining, too.

There is a lot of information out there if you still need to be convinced. Some of the handouts were straight from the web:

Local Harvest has a lot of information on CSAs.

What is a CSA? is from this site in Lebanon!

Five Reasons to Buy Local is from Community Alliance With Family Farmers a good site with lots of links...

And Mr. Ramsdell recommended one of my favorite sites for loads of reading (that this city girl only discovered last year): ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service

Here is a list of the goods that growers were offering, just to show a bit of what we can buy fresh, and local, and (hopefully) organically grown or at least grown with as sustainable practices as possible:

vegetables, greens, pumpkins and squash, potatoes, heritage tomatoes and cucumbers
fruit, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, apples (heritage), pears, peaches, plums, grapes soon, sweet and tart cherries
flowers, gourds
maple syrup
chickens, range and tractored
turkeys, heritage varieties
grassfed beef
milk soon

One grower said they raise 90 varieties of vegetables.
One grower said she raises 30 to 40 varieties of heritage tomatoes.
One farmer's antique apple trees are coming into production.
One grower is offering a monthly workshop.
One grower said they have two festivals during the season.
We heard terms like sustainable, heritage, hormone free, pastured.
We heard plans and dreams and goals, some of them realized.
One farmer's land has been in the family for 5 generations!
One farmer's daughter is taking the organic farming program at Michigan State University!
There was a lot of hope for the future in that room last night.

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