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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

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