As you may have heard, the stormy weather of this past weekend inflicted heavy damage on numerous Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms in the Minnesota-western Wisconsin region. The timing of the hail and heavy winds couldn't have been worse—in many cases entire plantings were wiped out in a matter of minutes, decimating months of preparation and putting the future of these farms, both during the 2017 growing season and beyond, at risk.
For over two decades, the Land Stewardship Project has helped promote the CSA movement in various ways, including publishing an annual directory of farms that serve Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We consider the relationship CSA creates between farmers and eaters to be a template for how we can create a fair, just and sustainable food and farming system. One critical aspect of this relationship is the idea that membership in a CSA farm means sharing in the bounty of the season, but it also means sharing in the risks. At times, raising food in the Upper Midwest can be made quite challenging by heavy frosts, hail, drought, flooding, pest infestations and other factors beyond the farmers’ control. Right now is one of those times when "sharing in the risks" of CSA farming is a harsh reality.
As affected farms take stock and determine what steps are needed in the near term while planning for the future, I'd like to ask you to consider what you can do at this time to support this critical aspect of our farming community. Over the years, I've been extremely impressed at how the power of community can help farms overcome temporary setbacks and move forward. Many farms that are currently thriving suffered devastating storms in past years and are here today because of the support of people like you. Here are a few ways to put that power to work today:
- If you've ever considered joining a CSA farm, now would be a great time. You can go to our online directory at http://landstewardshipproject.org/stewardshipfood/csa and get information and sign-up details for over 65 CSA farms serving this region. The directory also describes the concept of Community Supported Agriculture and how it helps farmers deal with situations like this via shared risk.
- If you are already a member of a CSA operation, check in with your farmers to see if there is anything you can do to help out at this difficult time. This is a real opportunity to exercise the "community" aspect of CSA.
- If you know of anyone who may be interested in the CSA model, feel free to pass this e-mail on to them.
Brian DeVore is the editor of LSP's CSA Farm Directory.