"Thank you!!! The vegetables are delicious. It's wonderful to know where they come from and to feel confident that they were grown with the well being of the consumers and the land in mind."
~2010 CSA Member
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a mutually beneficial partnership in which individuals or families receive fresh, local, organically grown produce weekly, while supporting local farmers and sustainable growing practices. The CSA model is one that has become hugely popular among veggie-loving Torontonians, over the past several years. So, why do people choose to join a CSA? Having run a CSA for three years now, I am always amazed by how everyone joins for a different reason.
Certainly, many folks are motivated by the health benefits that come from eating freshly harvested, local, organic produce. Intuitively, we know that because organic produce is free of harmful chemicals (in the form of pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers) is must be healthier for us. However, it is also scientifically proven that organic produce is richer in vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, and essential fatty-acids than conventional produce. Of course, scientific evidence can be generated to support any claim. However, the qualitative data I have observed from The Cutting Veg CSA is remarkable. One member told me that she joined because of her husband's cancer, and the desire to provide the best possible nutrition for his body. After a year of being a member, she reported significant health improvement in her husband, and gratitude for the role organic veg was playing in that process. Another CSA member simply reported: “My friends have seen the change in me --- that I feel much more alive and stronger since I started eating foods from your harvest.”
Others join a CSA for the sense of community it creates in their lives. The weekly veggie pick-up provides the opportunity to schmooze with people in the community who share similar interests and values. The relationship with the farmers provides people with a sense of connectedness to a wholesome lifestyle. Further, many CSA members choose to come out to the farm to help out, where they are able to connect with themselves, the earth, the growing process, and other folks -- furthering their sense of community and connectedness. As one member of The Cutting Veg CSA reflected: "It's that sense of being part of a team and a community that I love. It contributes to my psychological well being."
A lot of people join a CSA for their kids. Being part of a CSA, and having a relationship with a farm, supports children and youth to develop healthy relationships with food. CSA members whose children help choose their veggies at the weekly pick-up notice their kids develop a greater love and appreciation for produce and healthy eating. Further, kids thrive on the farm, and parents who bring their children to the farm to volunteer, rave about the positive impact it has on their lives. "My Kids are eating more veggies now...and loving it! And my husband too!"
People join for a variety of reasons. Some do it because they appreciate the exquisite flavours and superior nutrition of locally-grown, freshly-harvested, organic produce. Some do it because they want to be part of a healthy food system, and support local farmers. Others appreciate the financial savings that comes with being a CSA member. Many people join a CSA to be part of a healthy community, and to expose their children to healthy, fun, ethical choices. Regardless of ones motives, participating in a CSA allows one to enrich their quality of life, while making a difference in the world. If you're interested in joining a CSA for the 2011 harvest season, visit http://csafarms.ca/index.html, or http://www.thecuttingveg.com .