Agricultural Renaissance: Why Community-Supported Farming Matters
There is a renaissance in agriculture that is sweeping many countries like the U.S., Canada, and Australia. Many communities have adopted a greener lifestyle and shifted to what is called a Community-Supported Agriculture or CSA. This form of agricultural lifestyle is about a community supporting farmers by connecting them to end-consumers, or those who will buy and eat the produce. It works when a group of residents set up a shop where farmers can drop off produce to sell.
The difference is that community residents subscribe or place in advance orders so that farmers know what and how much vegetables and fruits to bring to the community food store. It works well because it allows farmers to produce the right amount of agricultural products for a specific market or number of confirmed buyers. That saves time and maximizes profit on the part of farmers while ensuring adequate quality food supply to community residents at a fair price that is much lower than what is offered in supermarkets.
Community Agriculture as an Alternative Lifestyle
The CSA movement has also inspired many families and entrepreneurs to try farming as a business and a lifestyle. Several people who fell in love with agriculture left their corporate jobs, moved out of the city, and relocated to live and work in their own food farm in the suburbs and areas that are more remote and suitable to agriculture. In some of these locations, new farming families and entrepreneurs even had to hire a professional vehicle shipping company to bring their car or van to the farm, given its remote location.
Benefits of Family and Community Farming
Despite starting anew in a place far from the city, many who have adopted this alternative way of living swear by its therapeutic effects. Aside from the benefit of finally leaving stress-induced jobs in the city, they get to focus on their health as they do physical work in the open air, all the time very close to nature and far from pollution. The physical exercise they get by just tilling the soil, watering the plants, and picking up the produce is all worth the effort.
Best of all, they get to eat organically grown food that they planted and harvested together as a family. For the first time, they did not have to rely on factory produced, chemically-laden commercially marketed food. Quite consciously, these new farmers have also stayed away from junk food and other harmful products typically sold in the cities. By returning to an agriculture-based lifestyle, they have revived their health and vitality.
As a community, it also benefits the residents enormously as they gradually develop closer social ties that grow into real, deep friendships. In some counties, the neighborhood starts on a community food garden project of their own to supplement what they order from the farmers. In some states, when a group gets permission from the local government, they can use open, vacant public lots as a food garden. There, everyone pitches in to take care of the plants voluntarily. Come harvest time, every household gets a share of the produce.
In clustered communities that maintain their respective food gardens, a barter trade of sorts also happens to enable them to exchange food directly without the need for cash. This alternative system makes the communities a network of mutually supporting groups who are committed to improving their health and ensuring their access to quality, organic food supply.
Since families are involved, the parents also use this opportunity to mentor their children to have a love for nature, respect for the human body, and a desire to lead a healthy lifestyle primarily by choosing to eat clean, organic food.
Changing the Economics of the Food Chain
In many ways, the CSA is a movement that disrupts the prevailing supply-driven food distribution system. When large corporations control the farming, production, harvest, processing, packaging, and commercial sales of food, they control the supply chain from start to end. Thus, the corporations can dictate the price as a giant middleman. That is between the farmers who sell the produce and the buyers who purchase their needs in the supermarkets. In between, the retailer supermarket adds a mark up for its own profit objective.
In many cases today, some fruits and vegetables are even imported from overseas to be supplied to a local market where the same products could be planted and grown at less cost. The imported items, of course, are saturated with chemical preservatives and may have already spent weeks or even months at sea during shipping and a few more weeks at the pier before trucks haul them to the supermarket for selling.
When CSA comes in, the food supply chain becomes shorter, and prices are much less. More and more people are embracing this lifestyle because of its ideals and the practical benefits they can derive from it. Indeed, when farmers and consumers come together, they can develop a system to help each other. In the process, they promote good health, a sound local economy, and a viable livelihood for those who produce our daily food.