community supported agriculture
Sustainable Farm Collaborative Leverages Regional Brand Identity, Extends Farmers’ Reach via Robust CSAApril 16, 2012 | Jessica Vernabe
When Capay Valley Farm Shop customers open up their CSA boxes full of fresh fruits, veggies, herbs, nuts and other edible goodies, they get to appreciate the hard work of dozens of organic and sustainable farms from, you guessed it, the Capay Valley.
The Capay Valley, located in Northern California in the coastal range between Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay area, has been a hotbed of organic and sustainable farming innovation for over three decades now. To meet customer demand for organic and locally produced foods, foster and strengthen the “Capay Valley Grown” brand identity, and increase the economic viability of farms in the region, Capay Valley Farm Shop was formed.
The monument to the Rhode Island Red chicken speaks volumes. Not found in Idaho, Florida, California or other agricultural superpower states, the bronze plaque mounted on granite is located in Adamsville, a small village in Little Compton, Rhode Island. The Rhode Island Red, which originated in Little Compton, is so highly regarded in fact that one black-breasted rooster said to be a foundation sire is stuffed and on display at the Smithsonian Institution. That Little Compton, a peninsula located in the nation’s smallest state, produced such an exemplary egg layer may surprise some but likely not those familiar with Little Compton’s Wishing Stone Farm. Owned and operated by husband and wife team Liz Peckham and Skip Paul, Wishing Stone Farm is a highly productive 45 acre sustainable farm situated on that same sea stroked neck of land.
Barriers to entry into a career in farming for young aspirants appear to be a bit daunting, but not impossible to overcome. So says a recent report based on a survey of 1,000 farmers across the US that was carried out by the National Young Farmer’s Coalition (NYFC). The report, entitled “Building a Future With Farmers: Challenges Faced by Young, American Farmers and a National Strategy to Help Them Succeed,” cites access to capital, land and health insurance as the largest obstacles to launching a career in farming. Apprenticeships, local partnerships and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), on the other hand, were cited as the most valuable means of helping beginners get started.
The 70-acre USDA-certified organic farm in San Diego, with more than 100 varieties of crops, has about 400 Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program members, or community members who sign up to receive boxes of its produce on a regular basis, said Lucila De Alejandro, who owns the farm with her husband. Suzie’s Farm also sells its produce at 14 weekly farmer’s markets all over San Diego County, and it sells its produce to more than 50 restaurants and at least 10 grocery stores.
Establishing direct connections between local farmers and residents, community supported agriculture (CSA) has been a growing form of direct marketing in California’s Central Valley, with the number of California CSAs growing steadily since the early 1990s.
Researchers at the University of California at Davis’s Agricultural Sustainability Institute conducted a wide-ranging and in-depth study of CSAs in and around California’s Central Valley.