Farm to Folk

I finally got signed up for a vegetable share with Small Potatoes Farm through Farm to Folk, our local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. This is the fourth year that I’ve had a CSA and I love it. I’m really looking forward to spring, and not just because I don’t want to look at snow anymore.
Having a CSA share is such a good experience in so many ways, but the most important one for me is that I know the farmers who grow the food I put on my table are getting honest pay for their labor, that they can afford to take care of their land and to take care of their employees. I also like the idea of keeping my food dollars in the local economy and of giving the money straight to the producer instead of through a string of middlemen and packagers. Another benefit that small vegetable farms provide is high biodiversity due to the many species of plants (and often animals too!) on the farms. They are often certified organic, but due to the high cost of certification,some farms forgo the label and just list their practices on signs or websites. Customers can actually meet the people who grow the food, ask questions, and make friends.
CSA’s are just one of many ways that farmers can receive fair pay for their produce; others include farmers markets and direct sales to restaurants. The one common factor across these is that they need to convince their customers that an increased cost is worth it. While there are certainly times when a certain fruit or vegetable is so locally abundant that it can be cheaper than the same fruit or vegetable from a large farm, there is no doubt that the economy of scale is lost on smaller farms. In order to break even, small farms have to charge a realistic amount for their produce. I’m ok with that. Are you?
You can look for CSAs (and farmers markets, etc) near you at Local Harvest.

Anastasia Bodnar

Written by Anastasia Bodnar

Anastasia Bodnar serves as the Policy Director of Biology Fortified, Inc. She is a science communicator and multidisciplinary risk analyst with a career in federal service. She has a PhD in plant genetics and sustainable agriculture from Iowa State University.

5 comments

  1. Yep, I’m looking forward to another year with my CSA. Hopefully some bees survive the winter and are available to pollinate!
    I wonder if someday there would be a Lab to Fork website? Find biofortified produce in your local area?

  2. Pingback: I say tomato…
  3. Lab to Fork – I like it 🙂
    Actually, when I started this post, I was thinking about the new long-lasting tomatoes that I wrote about in I say tomato… but I couldn’t figure out a coherent way to turn them into one post.
    I think there is a lot of potential for biofortification and other traits that benefit the consumer to be grown on small farms. These types of crops would have added value and could help small farmers get a realistic value for their work.
    Of course, I don’t know how many people besides you and me would choose crops like Bt sweet corn and long-lasting tomatoes.

  4. On the average, people would rather eat Bt sweet corn than insecticide-sprayed conventional corn. But the proportion of them that would go for CSAs is probably different. There’s a farmer in California that sells labeled Bt sweet corn at the farmer’s market and he says that people seek him out because his stuff is not insect bitten nor is it sprayed with insecticides. Fun stuff, I’m a little optimistic about it I guess, but it will be really interesting to see consumer-oriented traits come out in the near future.

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