(Lydia Hastings is working at FLOC’s Outdoor Education Center as the Marketing AmeriCorps VISTA. She originally joined the OEC staff over the summer as the Kitchen Coordinator.)
“A small minority of farmers, laden with debt and overburdened with responsibility, cannot possibly meet the needs of all the people. More and more people are coming to recognize this, and they are becoming ready to share agricultural responsibilities with the active farmers.” (1)
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) began during the 1960s in Switzerland and Japan as a result of the concerns about developing farmland. CSA consists of a community of individuals who support a local farm—assuming both the benefits and the risks of producing the food. Typically, individuals purchase a “share” of the farm allowing them to receive weekly deliveries of vegetables, fruits, eggs and even meats—all depending on the season. It took nearly 20 years for this concept to reach the United States. Today, there are hundreds of CSA farms across the country.
The Outdoor Education Center purchases CSA shares from Claymont Farms—a local farm in Charles Town, West Va. At a cost of $660, the OEC receives a delivery once a week for 22 weeks during the growing season. This delivery consists of fresh vegetables, micro-greens salad mix, and eggs. This CSA share allows the OEC staff to supplement the food served to our program participants and summer campers. Some of the summer campers are the Leaders In Action (LIA) students from Harpers Ferry Middle School.
The LIA students take their involvement with the Claymont Farms CSA even further. As part of one of their weekly activities in the Spring, they travel to Claymont Farms to meet with one of the farmers. During their visit, they learn about some of the farming practices and see firsthand how the farm operates. The students also assist the farmer with basic tasks of planting vegetables, weeding the gardens and cultivating the soil. Participating in this visit allows the students to “buy-in” to the CSA in more ways than one. Additionally, to help pay for the OEC’s farm share, the LIA students construct bird houses to sell at the local farmers market. The money made from selling these houses goes toward purchasing our share for the season.
To learn more about the LIA after-school program, please visit http://www.flocoutdoors.org. Additionally, if you would like to learn more about the Claymont Farms CSA, visit their website at http://www.claymont.org/farming.
(1) Trauger M. Groh and Steven S.H. McFadden, Farms of Tomorrow. Community Supported Farms, Farm Supported Communities. Kimberton, PA: Bio-Dynamic Farming and Gardening Association, 1990. p. 6