community supported agriculture
Kick the commodities to the curb – that is the summer dare and promise of NOGMO, the Northeast Organic Grain and Malt Offering. Andrea Stanley organized the CSA to put regional grain products on people’s radar.
“I feel the locavore movement is so geared toward vegetables and fruits and not so much towards major staples of our diets like grains,” said Stanley, cofounder of Valley Malt in Hadley, Massachusetts. The CSA will show that flour, popcorn and of course, malt, have local roots, too.
Andrea and her husband, Christian Stanley established the first malthouse in the Northeast in nearly a century. There is no school for small scale malting, and no standard equipment to purchase, either. They scouted information on the process, and built their first one-ton malting system. Another very important thing they’ve built is relationships with farmers as they sought grain to malt. These relationships are the core ingredient of the CSA.
CSA’s have taken the leap into the 21st century. Community Supported Agriculture has for years been the refuge of the urban food-conscious looking for reliable, locally-sourced whole food. But small-scale operations can’t always reach a critical mass and some people can’t always take advantage of Farmers Markets. Enter Azoti.
Developed by tech entrepreneur David Ranallo, Azoti provides the internet platform that efficiently connects local farmers with local companies – and all of their employees – for quick distribution of fresh, sustainably-raised food, to a populace hungry for healthier choices.
“We need to de-commoditize food,” Ranallo said. “Azoti can help farmers with marketing, manage wellness programs for employers and fill orders for customers all at once. And when we can help farmers forecast demand, we’ll see cheaper Farmers Market-quality food.”
Sierra Valley Farms has found that by being open to new ideas, keeping farming practices simple and diversifying its products, farming sustainably can be successful and rewarding, according to owner Gary Romano.
“I’m a third generation farmer,” Romano says. “My family were flower growers in the Bay Area. My mom’s side of the family were cattle ranchers in the Sierra. When I was a kid growing up, I was raised on the flower farm. We did it the old-fashioned way—allowing cover crops to grow, hand weeding—the natural way. I took that model to use here and it works.”
In 1990, Romano bought the last 65 acres of his family’s ranch, located in the high Sierra of Plumas County, California and decided to turn it into a farm. It was a three-year process for Sierra Valley Farms to become Certified Organic, the only organic farm within 100 miles, according to Romano.
Sustainability isn’t just a token phrase at Mainstone Farm in Wayland, Massachusetts. It’s in their tagline. This “sustainable and natural” farm has been in cultivation for almost 150 years, and managers Tim and Pauline Henderson intend to preserve its fertility. “Even for our own garden, before we got into vegetables in 2003 or 2004, we never used pesticides,” explains Pauline. “It’s just something we believe in.”
Through practices like cover cropping, composting, and crop rotation, Tim and Pauline preserve soil health and ensure that the land remains fit for vegetable production year after year. Their 30 acres of vegetables are hugely productive – so much so that Pauline can’t even approximate the farm’s annual vegetable output in pounds. “We do so many crops, and with two or three plantings, I just couldn’t tell you,” she laughed.
William ‘Bill’ VanScoy takes a few moments away from his family and his greenhouses full of freshly transplanted seedlings to explain how his traditional hog farming operation became one of the largest hydroponic fruit and vegetable farms in Ohio.
“With the reducing acres of usable land in the USA, hydroponics (currently) is one of the more promising ways to keep pace with the growing food demands of a growing world population,” states VanScoy. And keeping up with demand is how it all started for this green thumbed Ohio family.
Farming in Southern California has advantages not available to growers in other parts of the country. The extended growing season, accommodating microclimates and fertile soil can encourage novice farmers to try something they might not normally take on. In the case of All Good Things Organic Seeds, newbie farmers Justin Huhn and Quin Shakra were inspired to go beyond organic farming of their 1.3-acre plot to establishing a seed sourcing company that aims to expand the available varietals of certified organic seeds on offer to backyard growers and small-scale commercial farmers.
During this time of year, Rising River Farm’s namesake, the Chehalis River, flows fast and steady, and even though the rainy weather makes it seem that spring is months away, Jennifer Belknap is itching to get outside. Even after 15 years of co-running Rochester, WA-based Rising River Farm with her husband, Jim McGinn, she is still anxious to begin planting the seeds that usher in another season.
Rising River Farm began in 1994 when Jim and two friends started a three-acre community supported agriculture (CSA) farm on land leased from Betsie DeWreede of Independence Valley Farm, located just outside of Rochester, Washington.
Growing organic food in the desert is no easy task. But Marilyn Yamamoto, who cultivates several acres of land a short drive from the famed Los Vegas Strip, has transformed her acreage into a test garden to help gardeners in the area determine the most efficient plants to grow on their properties so as to provide quality healthy food for their families.
Yamamoto says the small-scale growing operation known as Cowboy Trail Farm, which she operates as nonprofit under the name ‘Organic Edibles LV, inc’, is a labor of love.
Yamamoto, a Master Gardener, says she first began to experiment with desert cultivation techniques a few years ago, when her organization received a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She used the funds to acquire two hoop houses.
Hydroponics, the practice of growing crops in nutrient-rich water as opposed to soil, in concert with aquaculture, the farming of aquatic organisms such as fish, crustaceans, molluscs, etc., creates a sustainable, symbiotic farming system called aquaponic farming. Aquaponic farming is not a new form of farming, but other than many of the readers of this website few people know about it. Three men, Gabriel Michels, Timothy Kirk and Nicholas Fox, who partnered to create Grass Roots Aquaponic Farms LLC, located in Oregon City, Oregon, hope to change that. The idea was planted years ago.
“Actually, I was inspired back in high school,” says Michels. “That was about 10 years ago. Nic and I were in the same class and our school got a grant to have a complete aquaponic setup. It was great! We grew all kinds of vegetables.”
The principles of organic farming permeate every aspect of Duncan Family Farms from the seeds they plant in the ground to those they sow in the local community.
“We believe that the primary responsibility of Duncan Family Farms is to produce clean, healthy, life-giving food,” says founder and self-proclaimed “dirt nerd” Arnott Duncan. “We are also committed to making a strong contribution to an improved environment and to giving back to our community.”
Arnott and his wife Kathleen started the farm over two decades ago, and that vision has remained the cornerstone of their operation since the very beginning.
News Release – PITTSBURGH, PA. - Research indicates that many Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms are experiencing member retention rates between 50% and 60%, while other farms see retention rates as high as 90%. A low rate of retention makes it difficult for a CSA farm to thrive and grow and may endanger the whole CSA movement as people try CSA and decide the concept is not right for them. The CSA Expert Exchange online conference will broadly explore the reasons people join and leave CSAs and how to increase member satisfaction by drawing on the best practices utilized by CSA experts from across the country.
At Peaceful Belly, an urban farm just eleven miles outside Boise, it’s all about locally produced healthy food, organic crop variety and a sustainable local culture. The farm is run by Josie Erskine, her husband Clay and a group of willing volunteers who work the 70 acre parcel nestled between two foothills in the Dry Creek Valley. The urban farm is a labor of love and an important source of food in the local community.
In recent years farmland has disappeared from the Boise outlying area due to urban sprawl, including one large farm that was sold and turned into apartment buildings. Saving and working farmland in a sustainable manner is very important at Peaceful Belly Farm which is the largest contiguous farmland left in the area.
Shopping at Farmers Markets or participating in the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) system of picking up weekly produce boxes from a local farm are both great ways to enjoy locally grown produce. But once the growing season is over, generally, so are the Farmers Markets and the CSAs. So, how can people buy local produce and other farm products year-round? From out of this dilemma, the seed for a new business idea was planted.
In 2009, Andrew Adams saw the need in his Bend, OR community to get local, organic foods during the “off season.” So, he decided to fill that niche. He believed that if he created a link between local farms and local folks, people could be supplied with a year-round bounty of fresh, organic foods. Out of this idea, grew Agricultural Connections (AC).