Today, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a common concept embraced around the world. But when Robyn Van En launched the first CSA in the United States from her Massachusetts farm in 1985, it was a radical act.
Already established in Europe, the CSA concept was then a novelty to U.S. consumers. The beauty is in its simplicity. By agreeing to pay a small amount on a recurring basis in exchange for a scheduled supply of produce, flowers, and other farm-made comestibles, a CSA member supports the farmer in a very tangible way, guaranteeing a steady income stream even in the direst of times.
It’s the economy of shared risk. Being able to count on regular monies allows a farmer to make better decisions for the future. Being able to count on regular infusions of farm-fresh food allows the consumer to live a better life. The farmer wins; the CSA subscriber wins.
Robyn, who tragically passed away in 1997 at age 49, may not have known that her vision would change the face of small-scale farming in America — but her only interest in legacy was what the producer would gain over the long run.
The U.S. will, in 2020, commemorate a woman on the $10 bill, but Berkshares — a Slow Money currency in the Berkshires area of Massachusetts — is way ahead of Congress. Berkshares put Robyn on its own $10 bill some nine years ago.
SHED is committed to supporting the small family farmer in many ways. The food for our cafe and produce retail area come almost exclusively from local farmers and ranchers, many of whom are within a 10-mile radius of our Healdsburg store. So does the produce and house-made treats we tuck into our monthly CSA box.
Our CSA is slightly different than the one that Robyn launched from her Indian Line Farm 30 years ago. We aggregate and curate the best items available in every part of our store — and our CSA is no different. We pull from our own HomeFarm as well as from Bernier Farms, Front Porch Farms, MIX Gardens, Foggy River Farm, Preston of Dry Creek, and others to create a CSA box that offers a representation of what’s freshest in the fields on pick-up day.
The beauty part? A subscription to our CSA supports all of those farmers, not just one. We hope that Robyn would approve.
Want to learn more? Local Harvest has a more detailed description of the CSA model. Writing for the Rodale Institute’s NewFarm.org site, Steve McFadden offers a lengthy historical and political perspective on the CSA movement.
This month’s SHED CSA box includes:
Bernier strawberries, garlic, and basil
Foggy River conical cabbage, zucchini, speckled romaine, and Armenian cucumber
Front Porch red torpedo onion
HomeFarm peaches and herb bouquet
Preston Santa Rosa plums and purple haze carrots
SHED freshly ground polenta (made from Front Porch Farm’s Floriani flint corn) and creamy herbed buttermilk dressing
To become a subscriber, simply drop us an email and we’ll get you on the list!