Community Supported Agriculture supports healthy eating, shopping locally

Is eating healthy on your list of resolutions for the year? How about shopping local and supporting local farmers?

Is eating healthy on your list of resolutions for the year? How about shopping local and supporting local farmers?

A new program, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is hoping to marry the two goals and provide consumers with a weekly box of healthy, organic produce while also giving local farmers stability and an assured market.
Growing vegetables for sale is difficult enough but having to find a market for the harvest can be equally frustrating. By reserving and paying upfront, consumers provide farmers with cash flow at a time when they are purchasing the majority of their inputs. 
“The CSA model benefits both farmers and eaters in a community,” says Moss Dance at Ripple Farm. “It reduces waste, supports a vibrant local food economy and helps members to improve their diet with easy access to high-quality local produce.”

Two CSA programs currently exist in the Comox Valley with more in development stage.

Innisfree Farm at 3636 Trent Road in Royston provides a weekly box of fruit and vegetables from June 18 to Oct. 25. Pickup is at the farm in Royston and at one central spot in downtown Courtenay.

The price of 20 baskets of super fresh veggies and herbs for a small share is $350, and for a large share $650.

A couple of relatively new farms in the Comox Valley, Ripple Farm and Amara Farm, have partnered to form Merville Organics.

Both farms are transitioning to certified organic status in 2013. Merville Organics also provides a 20-week box program with pickup either at Amara Farm or at LUSH Valley in central Courtenay.

But CSAs are more than just about transactions and the sale of food. Customers are able to connect with the farms that they support and get to know their farmers.

Innisfree Farm and Merville Organics provide opportunities to visit their sites and participate in events such as festivals, harvest parties, and potlucks.
“The first letter in CSA stands for community,” adds Moss. “In my experience, this is the best part — families, friends and community members becoming a part of local farms and celebrating local food.”

For information on either program, visit www.innisfreefarm.ca or www.mervilleorganics.ca.

— Community Supported Agriculture

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