From: Paul Geary, ENN
Published April 8, 2005 12:00 AM

Farm Shares: Community Supported Agriculture

We're featuring gardening throughout the month of April in celebration of Earth Day, and earlier this month in the Sustainable Economy section we featured some of the challenges that face the gardener and the small farmer in this story:


For Small Farms and Garden Entrepreneurs, Challenges Abound


However, despite all of the information and resources for gardeners we'll be bringing you this month, there are people who may want the personal benefits as well as the earth-friendliness of food self-sufficiency, but who just don't have the time or the expertise required to run a successful garden or small farm.


There are ways that those in that situation can contribute to local agriculture beyond just attending a farmers' market.


The concept is Community Supported Agriculture, where people can buy seasonal shares in the production of a farm. The farmfresh fruits and vegetables are delivered at preset times to a location where each "buying group" then further divides the food into individual shares. Community Supported Agriculture groups support organic farming, permaculture and biodynamic farming methods for sustainable agriculture.


You can search for programs and farms that participate in Community Supported Agriculture at this website: Community Supported Agriculture.


Searches are by location by state, or down to the telephone area code. The ability to search for programs that accept online purchases, or strictly for programs that are nonprofit are available as well.


The idea is similar to the concept that EarthNews Radio and ENN introduced you to: "cow shares," where consumers who want access to raw milk can buy shares in a cow, giving the shareholders the right to milk borne by one cow. You can listen to that story here:



Listen to EarthNews Radio: Clearview Farm Cow Shares



The share system makes it possible for consumers to support directly the farms of their choice, in essence giving that buyer the power to decide which farming and agricultural methods he or she wants to support. That's something that isn't always possible when buying from the local supermarket.


The concept also creates a potentially expanded market for local farms, and of course makes it possible for those of us who can't grow our own food to get a somewhat heightened sense of self-sufficiency. And, it could very well be a money-saver: Wholesale and retail middlemen are eliminated from the process.


Remember to check ENN all this month for gardening ideas and resources.


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