If you love fresh food, and love eating local food, your year is often measured in ‘firsts.’
First greens of the season. First asparagus of the season. First strawberries…
From Spring through to Fall, there is a delicious pattern of food being grown and enjoyed. One of my favorite firsts of the year happened this past Friday, with the start of my CSA baskets from Sexsmith Farm in Ridgeway.
CSA or Community Supported Agriculture is one way to support local agriculture. Members invest in a farm upfront before the season starts and then receive dividend in the form of food shares throughout the growing season.
In theory, this gives farmers the finances they need when they need it without having to turn to banks. It also gives a means for local people to become more educated and invested in local agriculture.
The relationship works best when members understand the nature of their investment. These aren’t GICs. In years with bad weather, the yields are lower, so member shares are smaller. In my mind, that is one of the values of a CSA; until you understand the pressures faced by small farms, I’m not sure you can truly appreciate the food that sustains us.
This is my third year with Sexsmith Farm. I’m delighted to find that they’ve switched things up a bit this year and have formed a co-op. Four local farmers have teamed up to maximize their efforts and provide support for each other. If the first week of my share is any indication, this was a great move.
With the soggy Spring we’ve had, I seriously doubted that the shares would begin this early. But planting greens on higher, sandier ground in Sherkston instead of Ridgeway allowed some of the sowing to go ahead as usual. I really hope that the co-op works out because there seems to be great benefit to sharing the stress as well as the success.
If you live in the Fort Erie area but didn’t get in on the full-season share, you’re not out of luck. I understand they may add a shorter July/August share as well as an eight-week winter share. If you’re not ready to commit, you can check out their produce at their farm stand (entrance off Centralia Avenue) or the Ridgeway Farmers Market. Though you’d never know it from these photos, the farm was full of friendly people!
To peek into my CSA basket this week, visit my blog.
Dispatches from the South, written by Erin Wilson, features local food and agriculture stories from south Niagara.