CSAs and Risk

Hurricane Irene is on the way!  While I’m hoping it turns out to be nothing, we’ve still done all we can to minimize possible damage.  We took the cover off the greenhouse (don’t need the greenhouse taking flight!), harvested as much as we can (no harvesting is going to happen tomorrow), stowed away empty 600-gallon water tanks (would be funny rolling down the street, but not safe), compression strapped/staked down the bee hives, took some “before” photos of the tall plants like the tomatoes and sunflowers… not much to be done besides that.

As all of this was happening I started thinking about the idea of a CSA – it’s community supported agriculture.  Everyone shares in the risks and rewards of their farm together.  In a normal year there are normal ups and downs, but in the year with the freak hurricane there is some measure of support for the farmer.  Everyone is big on local, small, organic farms right now – but what if that small farm only did farmer’s markets or only sold to restaurants and their entire field were wiped out this weekend?  Farming is just not profitable enough for farmers to bounce back from that like nothing happened.  Many small start-up farms might not bounce back at all.  I don’t anticipate the storm damage being so dire for our field – but it could happen some year in the future.

And that lead me to thinking about the educational aspect of CSAs.  It’s not just about fostering awareness that food comes from plants, not stores; or about learning about purple carrots or heirloom tomatoes or what on earth a kohlrabi is.  There’s also the dimension that our entire food supply, unlike synthetic goods, are heavily weather dependent.  Like for real.  Hahaha.


FYI – if you want more info on CSAs, here’s the agreement we have with our members:

By submitting this form and payment, I confirm my agreement to become a member of this CSA for the 2011 season. I will pick up my share on Mondays or Thursdays (depending on pickup location) or send an authorized person to pick it up for me. I understand that there are no refunds for missed shares or cancellations. As a member I commit to helping the CSA by working a shift. I understand that the way a CSA works is that I share both the bounties and risks (poor weather, crop failure, drought, and so on) of the farmer. My share may vary from week to week and there is no guarantee of the exact amount or contents of my share. I agree not to hold the CSA, or anyone acting on behalf of the CSA, responsible for damages resulting from injuries sustained as a result of carelessness or negligence while engaged in any activity sponsored, held, or coordinated by the CSA (including but not limited to the weekly distribution and farm visits).  By participating in the CSA, I am supporting the local farmer as well as more equitable food distribution, and I am helping to create a more environmentally just, economically fair and healthy society.