Spring 2014 - news from the farms, the food climate, and the effect of recent changes made in the CSA
Bad news: Climate Change is taking a toll. Last year our main CSA farm struggled hard to manage all summer; the citrus orchard in Florida succumbed to “greening”; the dates from Arizona had half the crop as usual due to a long drought then torrential rains during harvest time.
Good news: Without CSA, these farmers would have a hard time bouncing back, but the CSA relationship gives security and motivation to keep going.
Bad news: The political climate on food is very serious as battles at the ballot, in court, and online grassroots movements mount. There are literally millions against Monsanto but the power is still there. Government regulations in process are set to strangle small farms. We are not political writers but the information is out there if you are not yet informed. We get notices practically every day about political battles over food. It is VERY serious.
Good news: CSA supports small farms that care about real food, the environment and human relationship. They need us and we need them.
Bad news: This winter has been really hard on our farm in Kimberton.
Good news: Erik laughed as he said it’s a good thing this is their 3rd year doing the Winter CSA with us because if it was the first time, they might not do it again!
The farmers really need our support as they face Climate Change and this hostile political climate. Our ability to choose what we eat is at stake.
Last year we made numerous changes to the Spiritual Food CSA system:
The switch to share boxes has been enormously successful. Not only relieving the strain of organizing volunteers at all the locations but the Wednesday morning set up in Bethesda is actually smoother, more fun and takes no more time than before.
A lovely bonus is that we have had a chance to meet and work alongside members from all the locations who have come to Bethesda to help. People who we’ve only known by name before, plus new members coming to see and help behind-the-scenes. Of course, our Bethesda members who have always lent a hand are still here and still pitching in. This is a beautiful expression of community.
For half shares, the switch to a bi-weekly option came off without a glitch and offers great relief to those who needed to find a partner There are over 50 people, summer and winter, with half shares.
The new 6 week trial option attracted 20 new people in summer and 15 in Winter so far
The 2 new locations, Capitol Hill and Cabin John, are going strong thanks to the great host families and new members there. Cheverly has 4 members and is looking to expand. We have a place in Tenleytown and former members who moved to Alexandria and Annapolis that want to gather a group and host a delivery site.
Standing orders of bread, eggs, yogurt, etc and special orders of other items have increased quite a bit this year thanks to Durga who organizes the orders, Parvati who fills them and Hanuman who delivers. Thanks to members who’ve been participating – it’s another way to connect with the community.
All the host families plus the people at the Washington Waldorf School deserve not only our gratitude for opening their space to CSA but for the great attitude and leadership they share with us. When asked if they would continue another season, EVERYONE gave a resounding and unhesitating YES! So our thanks goes also to the membership for your great attitude and care.
You’ve heard of 3 Guys restaurant? Well the CSA has 3 guys that have been volunteering every Wednesday morning for a long time now alongside our member volunteers and 2 staff to get your share out to you every week. If it wasn’t for them, well, it sure would be hard to be so timely each week and definitely we would be out in the cold a lot longer. They not only take away the stress of packing 80 + share boxes and setting up for 50 more here, but they make it fun!
We had an average of 136 shares for Summer/fall season and 134 for Winter which went up to 144 in late spring as things start growing and people are doing trials before summer starts. Counting full and half shares it is an average of 162 members this year. This is down slightly from last year even with all the successful changes made. Pressures of daily life, the economy, job security, the crop failures last summer may all play a part in why people do not stay in the CSA.
We believe strongly in the “Community” and in the “Support” of “Agriculture” that the CSA model offers, and that it is ESPECIALLY important when times are hard. We like to hear reflections on your experience with the CSA and suggestions for how to make it better serve you.
CSA is about food for our families, but it is so much more.