by Kim Cooper
This week, let’s look at food box programs, or CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). For many years, CSA has become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer.
The basics of how this program operates differs widely, from subscribing to purchase various sizes of boxes each week during the growing season, to buying a number of “shares” to the public. Consumers purchase a share (a “membership” or a “subscription”) and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the growing season.
There are also various options for pick up or delivery of these food boxes.
This arrangement creates several rewards for both the farmer and the consumer.
For the farmer, they get to spend time marketing the food early in the year, before their 16 hour days in the field begin. They receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm’s cash flow, and they have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow.
For consumers, they receive fresh locally grown food. They are exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cooking. They usually get to visit the farm at least once a season. They find that kids typically favour food from “their” farm – even veggies they’ve never been known to eat. And perhaps best of all, they develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown.
The concept of buying more local food and knowing where you food is being grown continues to increase with consumers. With food recalls happening more and more, it is causing consumers to pay more attention to their food purchases, including reading the food labels carefully to find out just where that food is coming from.
Here in Ontario, we obviously can’t grow everything. But we do grow quite a bit. In Chatham-Kent, we grow over 70 different crops, and this doesn’t include the livestock we raise.
An excellent source of information for what is grown here in our community can be found on the BuyLocal BuyFresh map, which is free to pick up at any municipal office, libraries, and many of our local food producers. You can also find it online at: http://buylocalbuyfreshchathamkent.com/
There are a number of CSA operations across Ontario you can find at this link: http://csafarms.ca/CSA%20map%20wp.html
Here in Chatham-Kent, we have two producers who are offering their versions of CSA food boxes.
Joseph and Eraina Grootenboer own and operate River Bell Market Garden at 559 Sydenham Street in Dresden. The phone number is 519-683-2052. They offer certified organic vegetables and fruit, along with eggs, chicken, pork and lamb.
Chris Knight and his family own and operate Clear Creek Farms, at 14757 Cleeves Line near Highgate. Their phone number is 519-784-6651. They offer certified organic beef, chicken and pork.
We are so fortunate in our community to have so many producers who grow and raise so many food products. We need to always remember to support our local producers. It provides us with high quality local food and it helps sustain and grow our local economy.
Remember that here in Chatham-Kent we grow for the world. Check out our community’s agricultural website at: www.wegrowfortheworld.com
Kim Cooper has been involved in the agribusiness sector for over 45 years. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also follow him on Twitter at ‘theAGguy’