Equiterre is a non-profit organization dedicated to building a citizens' movement by promoting individual and collective choices that are both environmentally and socially responsible. They co-ordinate a network of CSA farms in Quebec, and promote the idea of ecological agriculture amongst Quebeckers. Each member’s contribution of $15 supports the work of this organization.
Visit their website: http://www.equiterre.org/en/, and find out more. Also on their website, you can browse through the list of CSA farms and find one for the summer that drops off at location near you.
WHAT IS COMMUNITY SUPPORTED AGRICULTURE? (CSA)
Community Supported Agriculture (also called Community Shared Agriculture) is a way to support small scale, local farmers. Members, or ‘shareholders’, buy a share of the produce before the season begins, which provides the farmer with much-needed income
The basket season lasts about 20 weeks in Québec, from the end of June until the beginning of November. The exact date of the first harvest depends on the weather, and the farm.
One share of the farm’s harvest is meant to meet the requirements of an average sized family, and costs between 500$-580$. Participating farms have drop off points all over the city. In the west end, La Maison Verte (5785 Sherbrooke W. in NDG) will put you in contact with the farms that drop off there (Ferme Mangetout, Steven Homer,...).
CSA farms first came about in Japan, Germany, and Switzerland in the 1960’s, in response to concerns about food safety and the urbanization of agricultural land. In Europe, groups of consumers and farmers organized themselves into co-operative partnerships in order to fund farming operations. In Japan, it was mothers concerned about the rise of imported food and the loss of arable land who started the first projects in 1965. The concept of CSA’s spread to North America in the 1980’s, and there are now approximately 1400 CSA farms in Canada and the United States.
Joining a CSA can be an exciting way to learn about where your food comes from and how it is grown. You will likely experience new kinds of vegetables, and learn about ways you can cook and preserve them. If you like, you can visit the farm to help out with production, and to see how your vegetables are growing! Meeting the people who grow your food is a special part of joining a CSA farm. You get to know the farmers who are putting lots of love and hard work into producing your food. You will meet them at the pick-up location, on farm visit days, and have regular contact through a weekly newsletter.
While industrial farms are growing crops for their ability to ship over long distances, smaller, local, community-supported farms can choose varieties for their flavour and nutrition, which means that you can expect the food you get from your CSA farm to be of much higher quality then what you are used to at the grocery store.
Community-supported agriculture From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Community supported agriculture)
Community-supported agriculture (CSA) is a relatively new socio-economic model of food production, sales and distribution aimed at both increasing the quality of food and the quality of care given the land, plants and animals – while substantially reducing potential food losses and financial risks for the producers. It is also a method for small-scale commercial farmers and gardeners to have a successful, small-scale closed market. CSA’s focus usually on a system of weekly delivery or pick-up of vegetables, sometimes also flowers, fruits, herbs and even milk or meat products in some cases. A variety of production and economic sub-systems are in use worldwide.The CSA system
CSA generally, is the practice of focusing on the production of high quality foods using ecological, organic or biodynamic farming methods. This kind of farming operates with a much greater-than-usual degree of involvement of consumers and other stakeholders—resulting in a stronger than usual consumer-producer relationship. The core design includes developing a cohesive consumer group that is willing to fund a whole season’s budget in order to get quality foods. The system has many variations on the theme of how the farm budget is support by the consumers and how the producers then deliver the foods and thus also a variety of levels of risk for the producers. The greater the whole-farm, whole-budget support, the greater the focus can be on quality and the less risk of food waste or financial loss.
In its most formal and structured European and North American form, CSAs focus on having: (A) a transparent, whole season budget for producing a specified wide array of products for a set number of weeks a year; (B) a common-pricing system where producers and consumers discuss and democratically agree to pricing based on the acceptance of the budget; and (C) a ‘shared risk and reward’ agreement i.e. that the consumers eat what the farmers grow, even with the vagaries of seasonal growing. Thus, individuals, families or groups do not pay for x pounds or kilograms of produce, but rather support the budget of the whole farm and receive weekly what is seasonally ripe. This approach eliminates the marketing risks and costs for the producer and an enormous amount of time, often manpower too, and allows producers to focus on quality care of soils, crops, animals, co-workers—and on serving the customers. There is little to no loss, i.e. waste in this system as well, since the producers know in advance who they are growing for and how much to grow, etc.
Some confusion about the CSA system has arisen as some CSAs are less whole-budget, whole-farm oriented and have more the character of subscription farming. This kind of arrangement is also referred to as crop-sharing or box schemes. In such cases, farmers often simply set the weekly prices and retain a high level of risk, marketing costs and so on. Thus there is an important distinction between the producers (farmers, gardeners, etc.) selling shares in the upcoming season's harvest or selling a weekly subscription that includes x , y , z amounts of produce. In all cases, participants contributes a pre-agreed to amount (sometimes an equal amount, sometimes variable) and in return receive a weekly harvest.
Some farms are dedicated entirely to CSA, while others also sell through on-farm stands, farmers' markets, and other channels. Most CSAs are owned by the farmers, while some offer shares in the farm as well as the harvest. Consumers have organized their own CSA projects, going as far as renting land and hiring farmers. Many CSAs have a core group of members that assists with CSA administration. Some require or offer the option of members providing labor as part of the share price.
Typically, CSA farms are small, independent, labor-intensive, family farms. By providing a guaranteed market through prepaid annual sales, consumers essentially help finance farming operations. This allows farmers to not only focus on quality growing, it can also somewhat level the playing field in a food market that favors large-scale, industrialized agriculture over local food. Vegetables and fruit are the most common CSA crops. Many CSAs practice ecological, organic or biodynamic agriculture, avoiding pesticides and inorganic fertilizers. The cost of a share is usually competitively priced when compared to the same amount of vegetables conventionally-grown, partly because the cost of distribution is lowered.
Method of distribution is a distinctive feature in CSA. In the U.S. and Canada, shares are usually provided weekly, with pick-ups on a designated day and time. CSA subscribers often live in towns and cities - local drop-off locations, convenient to a number of members, are organized, often at the homes of members. Shares are also usually available on-farm.
CSA is different from buying clubs and home delivery services, where the consumer buys a specific product at a predetermined price. CSA members are actively involved in the production process, providing a form of direct financing through advance purchase of shares, and assisting with distribution by picking up their shares.
An advantage of the close consumer-producer relationship is increased freshness of the produce, because it does not have to be shipped long distances. The close proximity of the farm to the members also helps the environment by reducing pollution caused by transporting the produce.
Share prices can vary dramatically depending on location. Variables also include length of share season, and average quantity and selection of food per share. As a rough average, in North America, a basic share may be $350-500 for a season, for 18-20 weeks (June to October), with enough of each included crop for at least two people (perhaps 8-12 common garden vegetables). Seasonal eating is implied, as shares are usually based on the outdoor growing season, which means a smaller selection at the beginning and perhaps the end of the period, as well as a changing variety as the season progresses. Some CSA programs offer different share sizes, also, a choice of share periods (e.g. full-season and peak season).