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Farm-connected CSAs should offer more than just ‘veggie subscriptions’

Photo by Mswine.

I was recently struck by a promotion I saw on the site Local Harvest, which lists organic and locally grown food around the country. The site reads, “Many farms offer subscriptions for weekly baskets of produce, flowers and other farm products. Try a CSA this year!”

“A subscription to local farm products?” I thought. “Is that all community-supported agriculture has become?"

As the local food movement has gone from a trickle to a sweeping current, and sales of local farm products have grown, it seems that many community-supported agriculture (CSA) subscribers may have lost touch with the original intention behind the term. As a farmer, and one who’s researched and written about the history of CSAs in the U.S. and abroad, I find this trend deeply troubling. It seems many urban residents now see the CSA as just another form of “retail farming” rather than a model for civic agriculture, a site-specific form of solidarity, or associative economics that can transform relationships.

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In Japan, a global meeting on local food

"We wanted to connect 'safe' foods and the support of organic farming with the survival of family farmers, with the preservation of the environment, with opposition to militarism and imperialism, with demands for social justice, and with our need to work collectively to create a better future." -- A 20-year teikei (CSA) member at the Urgenci conference KOBE, JAPAN -- Attending the Urgenci conference "Community Supported Foods and Farming" in Kobe, Japan, in February reminded me that sometimes traveling to the other side of the world can bHonoring Japanese CSA farmers at the Urgenci event in Kobe, Japan.Elizabeth Hendersonring new …

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