Friday, 5 October 2007

Farming and CSA

“Farming is not just a business like any other profit making business, but a precondition of all human life on earth”, therefore “the problems of agriculture and the environment belong not just to a small minority of active farmers; they are the problems of all humanity.”

Groh and McFadden (1997). Farms of Tomorrow Revisited. Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association.

The same authors describe Community Supported Agriculture as follows:
"A CSA is a community-based organization of growers and consumers. The consumer households live independently, but agree to provide direct, up-front support for the local growers who produce their food. The growers agree to do their best to provide a sufficient quantity and quality of food to meet the needs and expectations of the consumers. In this way the farms and families form a network of mutual support. Within this general framework there is wide latitude for variation, depending on the resources and desires of the participants."

And they say, about CSA farms:
"If not growing all the answers, these farms can at least be said to be cultivating the right questions."

Besides quality food production and environmental care, sustainable farms can provide a learning ground for key human understandings for a meaningful life:

1. Living according to natural rhythms (the seasons and daily rhythms of the sun);
2. A modest lifestyle, adapted to what nature and locally adapted farming systems can give;
3. A readiness to do what is necessary without complaint (fighting the love of ease);
4. A deep understanding of the fact that you harvest what you plant;
5. Appreciation of the fact that it is nature that produces what we need to sustain ourselves, not the farmer. He only shapes the conditions that favour the growth of the plants and animals we need;
6. Understand that productivity of the land was shaped by the generations living before one, and that the way one works with the farm today will benefit or harm future generation;
7. Find out that nature produces best out of a big diversity of plants and animals: diversity fosters productivity;
8. Animals are needed to keep the fertility of the soil;
9. Hundreds of technical skills can be learnt on a farm, related to conduct farmwork properly, but also social skills can be acquired by having to work cooperatively.

Truly economic motivation should not be confused with profit motivation." They are totally different cathegories." Growing strawberries for a far away market consumes more energy than it delivers to the final consumer; hence it is uneconomic, however, a profit can be made.

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