Friday, February 24, 2017

CSA Charter Release and CSA Day Celebration!


     It’s hard to believe we are just 10 weeks away from the first CSA delivery of the 2017 season.  This year will mark our 24th year of CSA and we’re already looking forward to the bounty of a new year.  Our first greenhouse is set up and our winter crew has been seeding onions this week.  It won’t be long before the hustle-and-bustle returns to the fields and we’ll all have the opportunity to enjoy fresh vegetables again!
     Friday, February 24th is CSA Sign-Up Day, a day being recognized by farms across the country as a day to celebrate CSA.  CSA is a concept that came onto the scene in the United States about 30 years ago and we were among the first farms to start a CSA in this region in the early 90’s.  Over the years we have built a strong membership and, in fact, we still have many members who have been with us since the early years!  The market place and our food system has changed quite a bit over the past 20-30 years.  About 6 years ago we started to see a slight downward trend in our membership.  Soon we started to hear other farms across the country were experiencing similar trends.  Why is this happening?  No one knows for sure, but it’s clear that there are more outlets available for consumers to choose from when making their food choices.  Farmers’ markets, food co-ops, natural foods stores, upscale grocery stores, gas stations and convenience stores, home delivery companies and even home delivery meal services.  So where does that leave us at the end of the day?  Where does CSA fit into the picture?
Read more about CSA Day on their website
     The concept of CSA has remained the same and we believe it will continue to be an important part of our farm.  After 30 years this concept remains rooted in establishing a direct connection between a consumer and a farm.  This is a connection that brings greater value to the table than just the face value of a vegetable—for both the farm and the consumer.  Even in the midst of a wide variety of food purchasing options, it’s important to remember that the story of our food goes beyond just the act of eating to satisfy the immediate hunger.  Our food choices have the ability to impact our environment, our health, the health and well-being of others, politics, economics and much more.  All food is not equal, and transparency is not always evident on grocery store shelves.  Understanding the story of our food leads to community….which is what “Community Supported Agriculture” is all about.
     So on Friday, February 24th, and every other day of the year, we will continue to celebrate the impact CSA has had on our farm and the community of people that we have been blessed with through our CSA.  We enjoy the opportunity and the challenge of growing a wide variety of vegetables over the course of the season for our CSA members.  Growing for CSA is not an entry-level position.  It takes skill, experience and a desire to keep learning and improving.  We have to work hard to make sure we have vegetables ready for you every week for 30 weeks and there are some challenging parts of the season.  While we’re all anxiously awaiting the first green beans, strawberries and zucchini, we learn how to incorporate kohlrabi, fennel and beets into our early summer meals.  Learning to eat and cook out of a CSA box may be a challenge the first year or so when you’re faced with new vegetables you’ve never seen or used before.  It takes time to learn to choose your recipes based on what is in your box instead of picking out a recipe and buying the ingredients.  Our long time members tell us it takes 2-3 years to fully make the transition to seasonal eating, but remember we’re here to help.  Once you have learned to eat with the seasons, you begin to anticipate what’s coming next and learn to eat a wide variety of vegetables!
     Last fall, a group of CSA farmers from across the United States and Canada started working together to create a CSA Charter.  The CSA values outlined in the charter are included in this newsletter and help all of us remember and understand the core values CSA was built upon.  It reminds us of the relationship that must be established between a member and the farm.  There is responsibility on both sides of the equation, but there’s also great rewards for both parties.  We reflect on the relationships we’ve formed over the years with some of those early members.  They made the choice to feed their children the highest quality food and placed value on including organic vegetables in their meals.  Their children grew up as CSA kids, helped pick up and unpack the weekly boxes, visited the farm and ate out of the fields, learned to recognize and were willing to eat a wide variety of vegetables, and the families built their seasonal repertoire of favorite recipes.  Now, their children are moving on to college, careers, and starting their own families….and they take their CSA upbringing with them.  They have learned to “eat out of the box” and we are now realizing how much the simple act of eating vegetables from “their farm” has had on their lives.  Sometimes we get the opportunity to see them again as they circle back to the farm for a farm event, send us an email, or stop by the farmers’ market for a visit.  They are now beautiful, intelligent, creative members of society and are evidence that it pays to invest in good food and community.  We are grateful to have the opportunity to grow with these families and look forward to continuing to build that connection with members into the future.
     As we approach the start of a new CSA season, we want to say “Thank You” to those of you who have already signed up for another year.  Your early commitment to 2017 CSA Shares is important for our farm.  We hope you’ll consider sharing your CSA experiences with other members of your community and encourage them to consider making CSA a part of their lives this year.  If you’re still contemplating signing up for 2017, we hope the CSA Charter will encourage you to take the CSA leap for another season.  Your membership in our farm does make a difference.

Farmers Richard, Andrea and the Entire HVF Crew

We invite you to read more about the CSA Charter
and why it is important on the website!

1.     Farm members buy directly from the farm or group of farms. There is no middleman.

2.     The farm provides member families with high quality, healthy, nutrient-dense, fresh and preserved, local and low fossil-fuel food or fiber, filling the share primarily with products grown on the farm or, if purchased from other farms, clearly identified as to origin.

3.     Farm members commit to the CSA, sharing the risks and rewards of farming by signing an agreement with the CSA and paying some part in advance, even as little as two weeks for those on Food Stamps.

4.     The farm nurtures biodiversity through healthy production that is adapted to the rhythm of the seasons and is respectful of the natural environment, of cultural heritage, and that builds healthy soils, restores soil carbon, conserves water and minimizes pollution of soil, air and water.

5.     Farmers and members commit to good faith efforts for continuous development of mutual trust and understanding, and to solidarity and responsibility for one another as co-producers.

6.     Farm members respect the connection with the land upon which the CSA grows their food and strive to learn more and to understand the nature of growing food in their locale.

7.     Farmers practice safe-handling procedures to ensure that the produce is safe to eat and at its freshest, tastiest, and most nutritious.

8.     CSA prices reflect a fair balance between the farmers’ needs to cover costs of production and pay living wages to themselves and all farm workers so that they can live in a dignified manner, and members’ needs for food that is accessible and affordable.

9.     Farmers consult with members, take their preferences into account when deciding what crops to grow and communicate regularly about the realities of the farm.

10.   Farm members commit to cooperation with the community of members and to fulfill their commitments to the CSA.

11.   Farmers commit to using locally adapted seeds and breeds to the greatest extent possible.

12.   The CSA seeks paths to social inclusiveness to enable the less well-off to access high quality food and commits to growing the CSA movement through increasing the number of CSAs and collaboration among them.

Harmony Valley Farm Special Offer

     In celebration of CSA Day, Harmony Valley Farm is offering a special $10 coupon to all new members as well as the usual $10 referral gift certificate to all current members that refer a friend! #CSADay