Raegan Daley from the UF Sustainability Department recently asked us a few questions concerning Community Supported Agriculture programs nationally and locally.
If you’re interested in the exchange you can read it below!
Q: What is it about the CSA program do you think is most useful and why should someone want to get involved?
A: Becoming a Community Supported Agriculture member is an intentional step you can take to create a real alternative to industrial and conventional food production. This investment provides immediate, tangible benefits to both community members and farmers.. For small-scale, local farmers, CSA programs reduce financial risk by having the costs of production paid for prior to the start of a growing season. This means less debt for farmers and an opportunity to focus on growing high quality food, invest in seed/equipment, and hire from the local community. For the CSA member, the benefits are numerous. Memberships provide:
· A seasonal eating experience and an opportunity to enjoy diverse foods at the peak of their flavor and nutrition. No cardboard tomatoes or bland supermarket spinach.
· An opportunity to reduce your carbon footprint – food is distributed within a municipal or regional circle, not shipped from across the country or internationally, which is fossil fuel intensive.
· Organic produce: – grown without the use of synthetic herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers. This protects your health, and the health of farm workers, and Florida’s aquifer.
· A support network for ethical relationships with farm workers and the creation of jobs in our community.
· An avenue for increased food security: save money and take control of your health by cooking more meals at home – you’ll always have fresh produce to work with.
· A chance to get to know your local farmer, and be able to visit your farm!
Q: What kinds of produce are given out once the payment is made?
A: Each week members receive at least seven different produce items that rotate on a weekly basis throughout the course of a season. Our upcoming Fall season items will include chestnuts, persimmons, kale, lettuce, sweet potatoes, radishes, turnips, sunchokes, cabbage, arugula, broccoli and much more! We grow over 80 different types of produce, and CSA members will get to taste almost all of them throughout the course of a year.
Q: What has the experience been like working as manager of your CSA farm/ of Frog Song Organics?
A: Coordinating our CSA program this past year has been an excellent opportunity to interface with and learn from the member communities we serve in Gainesville, St. Augustine and Orlando. I have thoroughly enjoyed the process of helping to thread the connections between individuals, families, distributors and other producers that are so vital to crafting a sustainable and productive food community. Working in a farm environment and providing such a dynamic product to customers like organically grown produce certainly carries with it a particular set of challenges, including the potential for crop failure due to pests/weather, managing tight time constraints, maintaining appropriate value, etc. I believe the fluidity of these challenges makes for a deeper appreciation for the underpinnings of the food network as a whole, and has ultimately made me more passionate about what our farm and community supported farms across the country are building.
Q: Why should people consider supporting local farms in the Gainesville community?
A: Supporting local farms is the best way you can improve community food security and our local economy. Alachua County’s has several CSA farms that all feature fundamental commitments to sustainability, nutrition, affordability and workplace ethics. Supporting these small-scale, family-owned businesses through CSA memberships creates ripple effects, helping to spur sustainable, directive growth, provide jobs in the community and allow farms the exposure to fill even more Alachua county residents’ kitchens with real, wholesome foods. The only way to make sure that local, organic food exists for you to eat is to directly support the farmers who produce it.