Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Urban CSAs

This is a really interesting take on CSAs (community supported agriculture). Normally, CSAs allow a person to invest in a farming operation and reap the benefits. This company has started retrofitting people's backyards into vegetable gardens and then the CSA operates on a very local level.

Read more about this in The New York Times.

As someone who grew up on an orange grove, but now mainly works with urban gardening, I love this concept. I really think people should be growing more of their own food anyways. It may not be as efficient or economical, but there's something very satisfying (and educational!) in saying I grew this whole salad in my backyard.

Over the years, I've volunteered quite a bit with Ag in the Classroom. The purpose of the organization is to educate youth about where their food comes from and help create well-rounded, critically thinking consumers. Many of the third graders that we would work with often said their food came from grocery stores. If you asked what they had for breakfast (usually orange juice or milk and cereal), and asked where the orange juice came from, it was always grocery stores. Sometimes they could make the connection back to the orange, but almost never could they make the connection back to the tree.

I know most people are now two to five generations removed from a farm, but this is still really sad. I want my kids to be very concerned with where their food comes from and how it's produced. I want them to think critically about production, processing, and marketing of food and make their own decisions. I think it helps when we are able to grow even a little bit in our backyards.

So, I guess what I'm saying is these urban CSA programs are great. If the vegetable garden is right in your neighborhood, you can visit it, ask questions of the homeowner (and the farmer who's helping), and still reap the benefits. It may even inspire you to try a tomato plant or two in your own yard!

So to inspire you, here's a picture that Kim took at the Garden Writers conference in Oklahoma this year. It's okra that was grown locally in a home vegetable garden. And, it's a great picture.


Kim said...

Thanks, Emily! Glad you liked the photo and were able to use it.

Floridacracker said...

This is a great idea. I was just reading about something similar in blighted Chicago neighborhoods.
If we keep turning good farmland into subdivisions, we'll all have to be eating out of our backyards!
Front yard too!