Reflections on My Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Experience

By Neenah Payne

CSA = Community Supported Agriculture is a short video that explains the advantages of participating in a Community Supported Agriculture program like the one I joined in June. It says:

“What if you could buy fresh fruit and vegetables each week, grown by a local farmer? Anne Cure of Cure Organic Farm in Boulder, Colorado explains how CSAs, a term which stands for Community Supported Agriculture, allow consumers to purchase subscriptions from local farmers, and in return receive weekly boxes of fresh produce while getting to know the people who grow their food.”

In My First Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Program, I explained why and how I joined the CSA program at my co-op. My Hidden Roots of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) explains that Booker T. Whatley introduced the CSA concept in the 1960s — although he is often not given credit for it. He was a student of Dr. George Washington Carver at Tuskegee University in Alabama.

Dr. George Washington Carver’s Creation Can Save Humanity Now shows that Dr. Carver created regenerative agriculture which Dr. Zach Bush says is key to saving humanity and the planet now. Dr. Bush points out that we are in the Sixth Great Extinction now and human survival depends on the urgent restoration of our soils to provide nutritious foods. Dr. Bush partners with The Soil Health Academy which educates farmers on how to convert to regenerative agriculture. A million acres in the US have been regenerated. His goal is to convert five million more acres. Farmer’s Footprint helps support farmers in the transition. Dr. Bush offer the free film on his site Farmer’s Footprint: A Path To Soil Health and Food Independence:

Dr. George Washington Carver’s Extensive and Enduring Legacy

Dr. Carver was also a founder of organic farming although credit is usually given to J. I. Rodale. “This was two whole generations before the opening of the Rodale Institute, which is widely lauded as one of the founders of the organic movement. His work was groundbreaking.” Dr. Carver was also the founder of permaculture, although Australian Bill Mollison is usually given credit for that.

“Carver saw nature as valuable in and of itself, an unusual perspective at the time. Although he stood at the vanguard of the early conservation movement, he rarely gets credit for contributing to its bedrock philosophies alongside thinkers like Henry David Thoreau and John Muir. Like those men, Carver’s connection to nature went beyond the scientific to the spiritual. ‘I am not merely touching that flower,’ he once said. ‘I am touching infinity. That little flower existed long before there were human beings on this earth. It will continue to exist for thousands, yes, millions of years to come.’

Today, the holistic, restorative farming approach he favored often is seen as an ’emerging’ environmental antidote. Permaculture, as some now call it, extracts carbon from the atmosphere, increases yields, and improves crop hardiness in a warming world. President Biden promises that sustainable agriculture will play a role in his climate policy.

The success of Netflix’s star-studded documentary Kiss the Ground reveals a growing appetite for this once-wonky idea. But many people whitewash the history of the practice. Indigenous communities have been practicing sustainable farming for millennia. Carver reintroduced it to the South because he understood that when land suffers, those who tend it do, too.

Emphasizing that link is a key strategy for contemporary organizations like the Sunrise Movement, and you can draw a line between Carver’s beliefs, the Green New Deal, and the recognition that social and economic concerns are inextricable from ecological ones. They’re all part of what Carver saw as an infinite, interconnected web.”

Kiss The Ground Film: Solution to Climate Crisis

“Narrated and featuring Woody Harrelson, Kiss the Ground is an inspiring and groundbreaking film that reveals the first viable solution to our climate crisis. Kiss the Ground reveals that, by regenerating the world’s soils, we can completely and rapidly stabilize Earth’s climate, restore lost ecosystems and create abundant food supplies. Using compelling graphics and visuals, along with striking NASA and NOAA footage, the film artfully illustrates how, by drawing down atmospheric carbon, soil is the missing piece of the climate puzzle. This movie is positioned to catalyze a movement to accomplish the impossible – to solve humanity’s greatest challenge, to balance the climate and secure our species future.”

See the trailer.

Watch the film.

The article adds:

“Carver became famous — in Black and white communities alike — for his work. The NAACP awarded him its Spingarn Medal in 1923. Time named him a “Black Leonardo” in 1941. And in 1945, President Franklin D. Roosevelt approved the creation of the George Washington Carver National Monument, the first dedicated to an African American and the first to honor someone other than a president.

So why, then, is Carver’s complex legacy reduced to peanuts?

Devyn Springer, a Black artist and writer in Atlanta, suggests that it’s because Carver’s work so vehemently challenges the capitalist status quo. Land, in Carver’s view, was not a commodity. It is something to be protected — treat it well, and it sustains us. But of course, that curbs profit and growth. And teaching Black farmers how to tap the land’s abundance, as Carver did, upsets the racial and economic hierarchy on which America was built. Recognizing that as we tell the whole story of Carver’s life is essential to celebrating his past — and safeguarding our future.

“There is a mythology that Black and brown folks have not been involved with the environmental movement, or have not taken leadership in it,” Penniman says. “We need to reclaim our history and say to young people, ‘When you take a stand for the Earth and for the human community, you’re not making that up or doing a white-people thing. You’re honoring the legacy of your ancestors.’”

Tuskegee’s most famous soil scientist saw miracles in the peanut, heard God in the forest, and sowed liberation in the soil. In doing so, he took some of the first steps in the long march toward racial and environmental justice that continues today.”

The Overlooked History of Regenerative Agriculture and CSAs in America  says:

“George Washington Carver was born enslaved in Missouri around 1864 and was freed shortly after the Civil War (which ended in 1865.) From boyhood, he had a strong interest in plants, eventually becoming the first black student at Simpson College in Iowa and getting a Master of Science in botany and agriculture in 1896.

Carver’s study and work was centered around supporting Black southern farmers in the wake of the Civil War…..Carver had to learn and understand the limitations— socially, politically, and financially— facing Black farmers at this time….Carver worked with these Black farmers in an effort to create lucrative, productive farms.

He showed them how to replenish the poor-quality soil, stripped of its nutrition as a result of monocropping cotton and tobacco for many years. Carver encouraged crop rotation, told farmers to begin growing and foraging their own vegetables and protein to save on food costs, and showed them how to use compost in the place of expensive commercial fertilizers.

Carver encouraged these farmers to understand their land and the seasonal cycles. While many farmers were still growing cotton, Carver introduced peanuts into their crop rotation, providing a nitrogen rich product to grow in their fields in the cotton off-season….In researching the fats, oils, sugars and gums of the peanut, he also found how profitable growing this nut could be for these farms. Not only would it restore the land, but nuts could serve as food for livestock and farmers, in addition to the profits that could be made through selling peanuts and their oil.”

List of Products Made From Peanut By George Washington Carver  Dr. George Washington Carver’s work resulted in the creation of more than 300 products from peanuts, contributing greatly to the economic improvement of the rural South. Below is a list of some of his peanut products.

How To Grow Half Of Your Own Food (Ad)

Note: There are now 50,000 peanut farms in the South. President Jimmy Carter was a very wealthy peanut farmer from Georgia!

George Washington Carver’s contributions to agriculture in the U.S. points out:

“George Washington Carver, known as the ‘Peanut Man,’ was a world-class educator and famous botanist. Before he became a famous botanist and world-class educator, he was a slave. Carver was born into slavery to a woman named Mary, owned by Moses Carver. Along with his mother, he was kidnapped as an infant, tracked down and brought back to his owner’s farm. After slavery was abolished, the Carvers raised and educated George.”

Carver went on to create more than 300 products from peanuts. Although his work with peanuts and his peanut inventions contributed greatly to economic improvement for the rural south and Georgia’s peanut industry, peanuts were more of a hobby to Carver. His influence on American agriculture was much broader, as he taught poor southern farmers, both white and black, more sustainable farming practices.

Carver became the State Agriculture Institute’s first black faculty member. He was an agricultural chemist, agronomist and botanist. After his tenure at Iowa, he moved to Alabama to teach, conduct research and become the Agriculture Director at Tuskegee Institute, now Tuskegee University….

Carver was ahead of his time teaching about crop rotation to improve soil fertility, using organic fertilizers and improving plant productivity. He did not allow books in his laboratory, challenging students to find answers to their questions through trial and error using the scientific method. He was beloved by his students, colleagues and everyone he met. He was offered many jobs throughout his lifetime from some of the world’s most renowned people including Thomas Edison.

With all this fame and notoriety, Carver was a humble man, an accomplished artist and pianist, a true friend and humanitarian.”

Why CSAs Are Thriving Now

Food Is A Double National Security Issue shows that 40% of Americans waiting in food lines for as long as 12 hours now had never been food insecure before 2020.

Also Read:

Here’s why CSAs are thriving during the pandemic
5 Specific Reasons Why You Should Stockpile Food Right Now
As Food Supply Chain Breaks Down, Farm-To-Door CSAs Take Off
Dry Corn Belt Ahead Of Pollination May Spell Disaster For Farmers
Pandemic-Driven Hunger Hits 15-Year High As Global Crisis Unfolds

Curtis Stone: The Urban Farmer

Curtis Stone, The Urban Farmer, warns about coming food shortages and provides tips on how to grow lots of food on small plots. See his book The Urban Farmer.

Christian Westbrook: The Ice Age Farmer

The site of Christian Westbrook, The Ice Age Farmer, is at: ice age farmer | food, abundance, warmth. It has lots of very valuable information. See his analysis of the looming inflation and food shortages.

My Co-op’s CSA Program

In Ice Age Farming – “Solutions Watch” with James Corbett, Christian recommended joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.

I joined my co-op’s CSA program when the severe drought hit California in June since California grows over a third of our vegetables and supplies two-thirds of our fruits and nuts .

The Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-Op began with just six farms in 2006, but now has over 120.

Joining the CSA felt like another small step toward growing my own food. It makes me feel much more appreciative of the work farmers do and more aware of the many difficulties they are facing now. Being a member of the CSA also makes me feel more connected to the land, to the Earth — more rooted, more grounded.  I like knowing more about where my food is coming from.

Mission | Lancaster Farm Fresh

2021 Summer Shares

The 2021 Summer Shares are shown at 2021 Summer Shares | Lancaster Farm Fresh.

My Small Vegetable Shares

A Small Vegetable Share cost me only $340 because I joined on June 16. It would have cost $450 when the Spring season started six weeks earlier. The share includes four vegetables which are delivered to the Community Room in my building which I pick up every Wednesday evening in the Community Room of my building. It’s a bit of an adjustment to eat whatever I’m given rather than buying what I want.

Since I receive vegetables I would not buy, that adds more variety to my diet. Dr. Tom Cowan stresses the importance of eating a wide range of foods. He sells his garden products at Dr. Cowan’s Garden which has an informative video. His site says: “taking our lead from healthy traditional peoples, we should strive to eat at least 10 to 12 different plants a day: some roots (carrots, beets), some stems (celery, Brussels sprouts), some leaves (kale, chard), and some fruits and flowers (tomatoes, zucchini). Eating different plant parts and colors is the surest way to avail ourselves of all the nutrients plants have to offer.” I use Dr. Cowan’s Savory Threefold Blend Powder with spaghetti sauce and potatoes.

Since each Vegetable Share is enough for two people, I have been giving some of the food to my next-door neighbors. Below are the vegetables I received the first four weeks:

Week 1: Peas in pods, 4 yellow squash, 2 types of lettuce, kale, broccoli
Week 2: Green leaf lettuce, 4 green zucchini, pink celery, rainbow chard, red beets
Week 3: Broccoli,  Red Leaf Lettuce,  White Spring onions Green Kale,  Fennel
Week 4: Gold Grape Tomatoes, Green Savoy Cabbage, Red Spring Onions, Slicing Cucumbers

My Small Fruit Shares

Since I started my Vegetable Share a week before my Fruit Share, I’m in Week 5 for the vegetables, but Week 4 for the fruits.

Week 1: Two bags of cherries (someone took my pint of blueberries!)
Week 2: Pint of blueberries and bag of yellow nectarines (VERY hard!)
Week 3: Pint of blueberries and bag of yellow peaches (VERY hard)
Week 4: Pint of blackberries and bag of yellow peaches

The cherries were not exceptional. The blueberries are like ones from my health food store. Because the nectarines and peaches were so hard, I put them in bowls on the window sill of my dining room to ripen. However, most of them just rotted.

When I called the Lancaster Farm that runs the CSA, I was told that those were bad batches and their warehouse would be alerted to avoid that problem. I was offered two replacement fruit shares or a refund. I chose a refund. However, it turned out to be 10 credits toward my next purchase. I was given a LOT of extra peaches this week to help compensate — but they were also not ripe. The cabbage I received was also humongous.

While I can still get organic strawberries locally because they come from California, the CSA doesn’t have strawberries now because they are out of season on the East Coast.

Neenah Payne writes for Natural Blaze and Activist Post

Top image: The Lexicon/YouTube

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