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12,000+ Strong For Community Farming

The number of CSA farms has grown enormously since 2007, as farmers, consumers and litigators are beginning to see them as a solution to many social problems.

A large patch of sunflowers is half-submerged in a large expanse of floodwater.  Power lines travel away from the camera on the right side of the screen, also submerged in many feet of water, with the power lines glistening.  Large trees in the background.

Photo: Katy Silberger (Flickr)

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) believes that the government should support CSA's to help small farms, like this one, recover from the damage caused by Hurricane Irene.

(Read part one and part three of our series profiling the past, present, and future of CSA farming around the world.)

CSA Farms Grow Faster Than Their Organic Tomatoes

CSA farms have enjoyed an unrelenting increase in popularity since the founding of the movement.

The USDA reports more than 12,000 farms were operating on a CSA model in 2007, up from about 1,000 in 1999, and from just two farms at the founding of the movement in 1986. CSA movement was founded with two farms in 1986.

Check out this fantastic video that illustrates the growth of the CSA movement since its founding.

Increasingly, consumers, farmers, and even lawmakers are beginning to see CSA farming as the agricultural way of the future, to offset both current and future risks associated with farming and food contamination.

CSA Solution 1: Food Safety

Since the beginning of the 21st century, instances of epidemics of foodborne illnesses have skyrocketed.

Savvy consumers have noted that eating local foods decreases the likelihood that they will fall victim to one of these epidemics, because they know where their food comes from.

Following a nationwide beef recall in 2008, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recommended that its readers look into local meat CSA’s in order to avoid accidentally consuming contaminated meat.

CSA Solution 2: Rebuilding After Irene

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) promoted the CSA model to help farmers rebuild following the devastation of Hurricane Irene.

Her Community Supported Agriculture Promotion Act would create a competitive grant program that “would award federal funds to non-profit organizations, extension services, and state and local government agencies to provide grower support – ranging from marketing and business assistance to crop development – to new or current CSA farmers, as well as assist in the development of innovative delivery and distribution programs.”

“Community Supported Agriculture can be a key component for providing our families with more locally grown produce,” says Sen. Gillibrand, in her statement.

“Tens of thousands of families have joined CSAs over the years…. Supporting and promoting local businesses and healthy diets, this arrangement benefits both the farmer and the customer. CSA has already done so much for this country – let’s give it the boost it needs to reach even more Americans[…].”

The CSA has a long way to go before it can compete with the traditional supermarket as a primary source of produce. But with rising gas prices influencing the cost of food, CSA’s and other options for local sourcing are becoming increasingly competitive.

Read More:

Sarah Gordon

Sarah Gordon has been interested in food ethics since she was 15, learned about industrial slaughter, and launched into 10 years of vegetarianism. These days, she strives to be a conscientious omnivore. Now a PhD candidate in folklore, her research has caused her to spend a lot of time in the remote Canadian sub-arctic, where the lake trout (sustainably harvested) tastes amazing.

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