24. February 2017 · Comments Off on THE JOY OF CSA · Categories: Farm Thoughts

Published by huntersgreens.com (shares available)

Today is CSA Day, when we celebrate Community Supported Agriculture. We’ve decide to celebrate by exploring the “Joy of CSA”.CSA-Day-v1

For consumers the Joy of CSA might include the following.

  • Access to the freshest, and therefore the tastiest and most nutritious food money can buy.
  • Certainty about where our food comes from and who grew it.
  • Knowing that our food was produced using fewer resources and creating less pollution than other sources.
  • Knowing that the farm where our food is grown provides habitat for diverse plants and animals.
  • Knowing the money we spend on our food stays in their local economy and circulates in the community.
  • The pride of being a part of a movement that holds solutions for many of humanity’s challenges.

For farmers the Joy of CSA includes the following.

  • The freedom of being our own bosses.
  • The advantage of capturing all the value of our product from the field to the dinner table.
  • The ease of working from home and only commuting once a week to deliver our produce.
  • The satisfaction of providing good food, protecting the environment and enriching the local economy.
  • The wonder of working in the midst of nature.
  • The pride of being a part of a movement that holds solutions for many of humanity’s challenges.

There, now that we’ve celebrated the “joy of CSA,” Jim would like to share the recent journey he took that inspired this exploration of joy. Here in Clark County, one of our fellow CSA farms has incorporated “joy” into the very conception of their business.  We speak of April Joy in Ridgefield, owned and operated by April and Brad Thatcher.

 Lettuce Pom Poms

Lettuce Pom Poms

Jim had the true joy of finally meeting April and Brad at Clark College’s recent Food Summit. April Joy has captured the attention of food system leaders who want to celebrate and encourage a new phase in the development of sustainable agriculture that they call, “ag of the middle.”  These are farms that are large enough to begin to enter and impact more mainstream commercial markets that can impact large blocks of our region’s food system.

Ever since we heard of April Joy, we have wrestled with alternate feelings of admiration and envy. The admiration is borne out of joy that a new generation of CSA farmers is taking this awesome food system element to new heights.  The envy comes out of the fear that we are being left behind, are yesterday’s news, and of our continuing struggle to find a comfortable niche in the marketplace.

The day we met, April and Brad set us firmly on the path to overcoming our envy with admiration and joy. They practically burst with the positive joyful energy that their chosen name implies.  April affirmed Jim’s role as an inspiration to her on her CSA journey.  Brad greeted Jim with true warmth when Jim popped his head into April’s presentation on systems thinking.  Jim missed the session, but Brad shared a handout that rocked Jim’s world, when he later read their excerpt from Donella H. Meadows, a systems thinker Jim had read forty years ago and then lost track of.

As Jim explored April Joy’s website with our newly acquired access to high speed internet (thanks to Stephanie and Troy Kotek), we found the tools to conquer the envy that gave new meaning to our chosen name Hunters’ Greens.

We were able to conquer the envy by reframing our mental model of CSAs in Clark County and our region. We came to understand that CSA is an awesomely scale neutral model that creates a space for a richly diverse ecological community of farms, from Coyote Ridge that may serve five to ten members while doggedly maintaining a witness to local powers that we must protect our land and water, to  Full Circle Farm that serves large portions of the state, to Full Plate Farm that specializes in serving Vancouver and Portland consumers during the dark winter months. Davey Maxwell of Hidden Oasis CSA, one of the grandparents of sustainable agriculture in our community always insists, “there is room for all of us.”

And through this reframing, we at Hunters’ Greens were able to reaffirm our pride and joy in the niche we occupy, a “Small is Beautiful” scaled CSA with a passion for wayward pets, historical preservation and speaking truth to power, even when it requires examining the darker corners of our own hearts.

A respected local food systems leader once described Jim as, “a kind of out West prairie prophet.” When you are a prophet you sometimes have to peer into the darkness to point the way toward the joyful light.

 

 

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