With daylight increasing and the start of spring only a month away, the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Innovation Network is preparing for this year’s CSA Week, to take place from February 20th through February 26th. Historically, this event (started by Simon Huntley and Small Farm Central) has been called CSA Day, but last year the CSA Innovation Network extended the celebration and promotion of local agriculture to an entire week to provide more mindful eaters with the ability to connect up with a local CSA farm.
The CSA Innovation Network is a national network for local CSA farms. Its website includes a map showing CSA farms participating in the 2022 CSA Week, and it already includes information on a slew of CSA farms located throughout the United States. More farms are being added (as 2022 CSA Week Participants) as the event nears. Farmers, who offer CSA shares, are encouraged to add their location and information to the map.
“There has never been a better time to connect with fresh local food while helping to make our local farmers and communities more resilient,” said Carrie Sedlak of the CSA Innovation Network. She is also the Executive Director of Fairshare CSA Coalition, based in Madison, Wisconsin, which serves the midwest region of the United States. Fairshare CSA Coalition envisions a future where Community Supported Agriculture is the backbone of a strong local food system and where all families have access to locally-produced, organic food from small-scale farms.
We’ve often noted the many reasons to connect up with a local farm as a farm share participant, which bear repeating: freshly harvested food tastes better; buying food from a local CSA keeps money in the pocket of a local farm family and protects local farmland; shareholders in a CSA develop a relationship with a particular farm and farmers and a personal connection with a piece of our mother earth that can be visualized and experienced; and participants in a CSA diversify their diets and try new foods.
And as we noted years ago, concentrating agriculture in California, which is the source of almost half of all the fruits and vegetables grown in the United States and a third of the world’s tomatoes is unwise given the water shortage and continuing drought and excessive heat in that state.
And the drought threatening food production in California has expanded into a “megadrought in the American Southwest” as noted in a recent article in the New York Times, “Western Drought Is the Worst in 1,200 Years (2/15/22).” According to reporter Henry Fountain: “The drought which began in 2000 and has reduced water supplies, devastated farmers and ranchers and helped fuel wildfires across the region, had previously been considered the worst in 500 years . . .” Yet, the situation has only worsened based on an analysis of tree ring data led by A. Park Williams, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles referenced in the NY Times article. The recent analysis of tree ring data reveals that the 22 year period, 2000-20021 is the driest 22-year period since 800 A.D. (as far back as the data goes).
It is unarguable that to know where your food comes from is increasingly important to safeguard a consumer’s sustainable source of food. And the drought in the western United States is only one concern also given the increasing challenges of supply line issues and the flooding of once productive agricultural land in the South and Midwest.
Furthermore, behind the use of the label “organic” is far too often “fraud” and “false labels” which we have spotlighted in the past. Just this week, there was a disturbing report of fraud behind the “organic” cotton boom. Knowing the farmers who grow your food often can mean the ability to connect personally, a meaningful human connection that provides a way to lessen the possibility of deception and fraud.
We encourage our readers to become a participant in a CSA farm. In addition to the information on CSA farms throughout the United States available next week on the website of the CSA Innovation Network, this website also has directories of CSA farms throughout the United States and Canada, as well as in England, Scotland and Wales.
In 2021, many farms sold-out their CSA farm shares, and February (before the 2022 growing season starts in many parts of the United States and Canada) is the ideal time to search for a farm to join.
To Spring and a healthy supply of local food!
(Frank W. Barrie, 2/18/22)