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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture
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community supported agriculture

Arizona Farm Aims for Cultural Shift, One Polycultural Offering at a Time

June 19, 2013 |

Walking J 1The peacefully grazing cows and incrementally ripening vegetables on southern Arizona’s Walking J Farm only hint at the ardent work of their owners, Tina Bartsch and Jim McManus.

The 40-something husband and wife duo are pouring their most productive years into this land, so it will sustain them, along with dozens of other families. Bartsch also speaks of shifting cultural attitudes toward eating, changing expectations that food be cheap and processed.

“When you’re dealing with the food system, you’re trying to change a culture,” said Bartsch. Read More

Local Food Delivery Service Brings Fresh Organic Food to Chicago and Milwaukee Markets

June 18, 2013 |
irv and shelly with Fresh Picks van

Irv and Shelly in front of one of the Fresh Picks delivery vans. Photo credit: Irv and Shelly’s Fresh Picks.

In 2006, Shelly Herman and Irvin Cernauskas set out on a mission to make local and organic food available year-round in two major Midwestern markets: Chicago and Milwaukee. Cernauskas, who had been actively involved the environmental nonprofit community and in creating markets for local farmers, already had the connections needed to help create a stronger relationship between local farmers and urban consumers.

“The farmers were talking about how they want to spend more time farming and less time trucking their food all over the place,” said Herman. “At the same time we realized that people in the city or suburbs need a way to get fresh, healthy food in a year-round way.” To fill this growing need, Herman and Cernauskas started Irv and Shelly’s Fresh Picks, a local and organic food delivery service. Read More

Pioneer Planting with a Tailed Twist: Riverbound Farm, North Dakota

June 12, 2013 |
Photo Credit: Riverbound Farm

Photo Credit: Riverbound Farm

“We worked in California, Arizona and Vermont for a while so you know there was a thriving local food movement there. So when we came to North Dakota we saw that there wasn’t really. There really wasn’t any professional level CSA and there’s a 100,000 people in this community so we thought ‘well geez there’s got to be room for us to create a business like this.’” –Brian McGinness, Riverbound Farm

Bounded by the historic Missouri River, the North Dakota based Riverbound Farm is home to Brian and Angie McGinness and their children. A farm located in the river bottom comprised of 10-acres of grow space, cottonwood forest, pasture land and wetlands, is a less than typical location for growing certified organic vegetables and creating a community supported agriculture system (CSA). Turns out it’s also a lesson for farmers across the nation. If you grow it, they will come. Read More

Rooted in the Desert, First Time Farmer Demonstrates Profit Potential of Small Scale Farming

June 5, 2013 |
Kelly Saxer of Desert Roots Farm. Photo Credit: Suzanne Heyn.

Kelly Saxer of Desert Roots Farm. Photo Credit: Suzanne Heyn.

At 7:15 on a late May morning, the Arizona sun has yet to bake everything in its path — including the vegetables growing at Desert Roots Farm, on the southeastern outskirts of Phoenix.

Owner Kelly Saxer’s staff is bringing in the day’s harvest, bagging carrots with huge leafy tops and weighing zucchini into bags. The vegetables will eventually make their way to the farm’s roughly 300 Community Supported Agriculture members awaiting the weekly vegetable haul.

Desert Roots sprawls over 25 acres that Saxer farms without pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. Instead of chemicals, she uses compost or manure and weeds by hand. Crop rotation allows the soil to rest between production. Read More

Massachusetts-based CSA Seeks to Put Regional Grain Products on People’s Radar

May 14, 2013 |
Photo Credit: Mark Flemming Photography

Photo Credit: Mark Flemming Photography

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. Read More