Community Supported Agriculture

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I attended an interesting workshop last weekend in Dayton on community supported agriculture. The Healthy Communities Coalition of Lyon County received a grant to do a train-the-trainer series on community supported agriculture (CSA). The goal is to teach people about growing vegetables and fruit in northern Nevada who will then take that information back to their communities to help others learn. Many people, especially our elders, our suffering in this down economy and not able to buy the fresh vegetables they need. With a few pots or a few plants in the ground, individuals can raise some of what they eat for a more nutritional diet.

Over the last 20 years CSA has been a way for consumers to buy local food directly from the farmer. People buy a share of the farmers harvest and usually receive a box or basket of vegetables, eggs and possibly other farm products each week through the growing season. A share might also be called a “membership” or “subscription.”

The advantages to the consumer include fresh naturally ripened food. Since most CSA farmers focus on building soil with humus and compost, there can be a higher nutritional content with greater flavor. Farmers often grow things a family hasn’t tried yet and include recipes in their boxes so people discover wonderful new tastes. Consumers know who is growing their food and can visit the farm.  The benefits to the farmers are having a definite market and receiving payment up front. They develop a personal relationship with their clients and can tailor what they deliver to their client’s preferences.

Another plus is that buying food locally reduces our carbon footprint, because less fuel is needed in transportation from far away places. Most CSAs are organic or use few inorganic pesticides which are often petroleum-based.

Steve and Marsha of Churchill Butte Organics put together the grant and did the workshop. They have a 5,000 square foot biointensive garden with hoop houses in the winter, but open in the summer. They feed 25 families and supply two restaurants. Their farm is completely off-grid. They generate their own electricity for their water pumps. They feed the soil with compost; use compost tea regularly; take care of natural pollinators and worms; grow what works here; attract birds for insect control and use non-treated lumber around their hoop houses and beds.

You too can help the hungry in our area. Plant an extra row of vegetables in your garden this year and donate the extra to FISH and other non-profits serving those less fortunate.

Mark your calendars for “Bonsai – Getting Started,” February 20, 11:00 at Greenhouse Garden Center.

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