A good friend and I have been splitting a share in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) for several years.
The CSA model is one that connects people directly with their source of their food. It provides farmers with timely working capital, a secure market for their produce, and a way of sharing the inherent risks involved in farming.
In return, shareholders receive a season's supply of fresh, affordable, local (and often organic), sustainablyproduced food. Moreover, it provides people with a meaningful way to connect with farmers, the local community and the land.
The CSA project to which I belong is with A Rocha, a Christian nature conservation organization that originated as a humble field study centre and bird observatory in Portugal in 1983.
As the A Rocha community realized that habitats and wildlife around the world were in dire need of protection, they expanded their scope and now have projects in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India, North America, New Zealand and South America.
A Rocha's Canadian presence was established in 2000 and its national office is located at Brooksdale Environmental Centre, a 40-acre property in Surrey. It is "a hub for practical conservation, education and sustainable agriculture work, (and) regularly hosts hundreds of volunteers and scores of interns who come to study wildlife, restore habitats, plant gardens and teach school kids."
A Rocha BC's CSA program has been operating for nine years, and farmers Paul Neufeld and Wes Smith are busy growing vegetables; training interns, volunteers and staff in organic farming practices; and building community.
Shareholders have several pickup location options (Surrey, East Vancouver, Main Street and the West Side), and each week's bin contains a mix of eight to 12 varieties of vegetables and herbs - enough to supply a family of four or five with most of the vegetables they need for a week.
Since each week is a surprise, a CSA box appeals to people who have a sense of adventure in the kitchen and enjoy discovering and experimenting with ingredients. Over the past seven weeks, we have received garlic scapes, zucchini, cucumbers, summer squash, turnips and more.
In Richmond, there are several farms that offer CSA boxes. Although the CSA season is well underway, since it has been such a bountiful summer, CSA shares may still be available.
Some farms also offer late season boxes that run through the fall, so contact them or look them up online to find out more.
Richmond CSA offerings: z Barefoot Farms: Farm manager: Mark Seiling, 778-859-5052, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.barefootfarms.ca; z On the Farm Vegetables: 604-284-5578, www.onthefarmvegetables. com; z The Sharing Farm: 604-227-6210, email@example.com, www.sharingfarm.ca; z Yummy Yards: Farm manager: Emi Do, 778-828-6353, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.yummyyards.ca. If committing to an entire season's worth of produce does not fit your schedule or lifestyle, you can always visit one of the many local farmers markets that are held throughout the week to support local food growers and producers.
Dora Ho is a culinary arts instructor at McNair secondary.
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