Community Supported Agriculture or CSA’s as they are known, are an increasingly popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. Typically a farmer offers a certain number of “shares” for a seasonal fee, in exchange for subscribers receiving a weekly basket of seasonal vegetables, fresh eggs and monthly olive oil throughout the growing season.
In addition to the attraction of delicious farm-fresh produce, subscribers are also committed because of shared values: sustainable farming practices; community cooperation and collaboration; fair wages; connection with the land and transparency.
According to an ATTRA publication , “the concept of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) was brought to the United States by Jan VanderTuin from Switzerland in 1984.” There are no official records on the number of CSA’s in America now, but they number in the thousands.
We continue to be subscribers at Oliview Farm CSA in Happy Valley, now in their third year, offering up to 15 shares. They are growing slowly into the role of food provider, and expect that, at full capacity, they’ll be able to take on about 100 families. This year deliveries will occur between late May/early June and November as the late spring rains have delayed planting. Owners Pedro and Elizabeth Betancourt say this about their operation in their 2016 brochure:
“In nature, much of life occurs at the interface of soil, water, air and sun. Double-dug beds, with soil loosened to a depth of 24 inches, facilitate root growth and improve water retention. The health and vigor of the soil are maintained through the use of compost crops. Close plant spacing is used to protect soil microorganisms, reduce water loss, and maximize yields. A focus on the production of calories for our members and carbon for the soil ensures that both the farmer and the soil will be adequately fed and that the farm will be sustainable.
This method feeds directly into our farm mission statement:
Approach the production and provision of food with respect for the innate dignity and beauty of each player in the process – seed, soil, animals, people – as well as the process itself.
This local, community-based approach to agriculture holds huge power and promise as a tool for addressing some of our core challenges, including those of local economy, individual health, and climate change and food security.”
If you are interested in more information about Oliview Farm CSA call Pedro or Elizabeth at 530-357-2321. Their farm is located at 5854 Telephone Gulch Rd., Anderson, CA.