Total Pageviews

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Time to Join a CSA (and how to avoid the Dreaded Fake CSA)

Now is the time to buy a CSA share. If you wait much longer most farms will be sold out.

Here at Boulder Belt Eco-Farm in SW Ohio we have a farm Share Initiative or FSI. We call it that because around here and in all Southern States, CSA means Confederate States of America to all the non foodie locavore types (which sadly out number us local foodies about 20 to 1) but it is a CSA and it is our farm's 14th year for CSA (we were one of the first in Ohio, being the trailblazers that we are). And this year we will likely sell out of shares before mid April as we have been getting a super response to our CSA this season and have already sold almost half our shares for the year.

Last year we did not fill up at all and had fewer shares all season than we do at this point 2 months before the season starts. The year before we sold lots of shares but had no members from 2009 join for the 2010 season. This year over 75% of last years' members rejoined and we already have 4 new members and several others sitting on the fence over joining and we get emails and phone calls about our FSI program nearly every day.

If you want to learn more about our program simply click on the photo of the CSA share to the left of this post and you will be taken to our FSI page where you can learn all about our program and what we put into our shares ever week as well as costs and the membership options (we have several).

Unlike many "CSA's" around here we are the real thing. There are more and more fake CSA's out there. These are basically brokers posing as CSA's. They take money and deliver boxes of food like a CSA but unlike a real CSA, while there is usually local farms involved there is never a farmer that is involved weekly with the members as these places simply buy from farms around the region as does any health food store or grocery, the members do not take on the risk of farming with the growers. With these places if a crop fails they just find another source for the food and the members are none the wiser and have missed out on a great teachable moment.

Risk sounds scary but is it very important to the CSA deal and 9.9 times out of 10 the risk is minimal to non existent-you may get fewer veggies in your share but you will get something and it will be enough to make a meal. But know there are risks such a bad hail storms, tornadoes, flood, swarms of locusts that can take out a season's crop. And know that while the member may be out several hundred dollars the farmer may well be out of a job and a place to live. And this is something our industrial food system has completely removed through farm subsidies, shipping in food from around the globe and the commodities market. And it is something that Fake CSA remove as well, they generally get their food from the same system as any grocery store, while touting they have local food. But the local foods rarely make up more than 50% of the share (and that abundance local food is only there a few months a year and the rest of the year less than 15% of the food is local). If you see a CSA that offers bananas in Ohio that is a fake CSA. It is really just a food broker in green locavore clothing, don't drink their kool aid. Instead do some homework and go for the real thing, a CSA that is farmer driven, gets all their food locally (ideally from their farm but sometimes you need to buy from other local farms, we do for sweet corn as we do not have the room or desire to grow enough sweet corn for our members).

We have had our FSI impacted by these fake CSA here in the greater Miami Valley the past couple of years but it seems this year more people have a clue and are turning to real CSA's over the brokers and resellers.

And hey, if you are in the greater Dayton/Cincy area and are looking for a CSA send us an email as we still have some openings left in our 2011 season

Friday, February 11, 2011

CSA Article

Great article on how to find and join a CSA. Unfortunately most of the people who left comments seem to belong to fake CSA's. A real CSA will have a farmer (or several but usually it is just one farm), the members will share the risk of the harvest with the farmer, usually the members pay up front for the season (though here at Boulder belt we do have 4 week and 3 month subscriptions as we have a lot of potential members who travel a lot so cannot do the 6 month commitment. A Fake CSA will advertise that much of the food is from local sources but in reality it is usually less than 25%. the members do not get to know their farmer nor see the farms where their food is grown. these are food delivery services or Co-ops but they are not CSA's.

And BTW Boulder Belt Farm Share Initiative is taking new members for our 2011 season right now. For more information click on the picture of the CSA share (artful pile of food) for all the information you should need to make a decision.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Depths of Winter

It's cold and icy and there is not much farming to be done right now. This morning at 6 am it is hovering around zero Fahrenheit.

It is way too early to start most of the seeds. we have onions growing in the seed room and should start some leeks this week and shallots as soon as the seed comes in.

It is way to early for tomatoes, peppers, melons, zucchinis, etc but I suppose we could think about starting lettuce, kale, chard and other cold hardy greens inside this week so they are ready to go in a hoop house in 3 to 4 weeks.

We do have quite a bit of pruning to do but right now the conditions are bad-ice all over the ground means that you cannot use ladders safely nor can you cut out raspberry canes.

So we sit around doing non farming things (lots of baking, deep house cleaning, watching movies, playing with the cats, taking long walks in the snow, removing ice from all surfaces, snow shoveling, reading, blogging, etc..) and even being a bit bored.

We will savor these quiet days when we are too busy for sanity (and it is hotter than Hell as well)