Monday, April 19, 2010
A Day on the Farm
I've been a member of Lancaster Farm Fresh CSA for a couple years and this summer I am a volunteer working with them. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. When you become a member in a CSA you are essentially buying a share of the farm. By paying for your share of the season's harvest up front, local smaller farmers have a cash flow that allows them to concentrate on the land. It also connects you to your local small farmer in a way that goes well beyond what you get even at a Farmer's Market. You get to know your farmers and follow their harvest. Their successes and their failures - and a stronger understanding what the real people impact those failures have. I remember one year I didn't see one green pepper in all season because an entire field of them was wiped out in less than one day by a hail storm.
Reading Terminal Market (where a number of Amish have farm and food stands), I am somewhat ashamed that I know so little about the culture and have had almost no interaction with individuals of either faith. I remember going to Dutch Wonderland with my parents and seeing the Amish children playing just like my brother and me, just dressed very differently. I really enjoyed meeting the farmers. I don't know why I was surprised that they were personable and gregarious. They and the land they worked gave off a relaxed happiness... everything just seemed to be in its place - the people, the animals, the crops - all creating a symbiotic harmony. One really cool characteristic of both Aaron & Levi is that while they live & work in ways steeped in tradition, they are both very innovative while still honoring and staying true to their traditions. Both have created ways to improve on harvesting, cleaning, and packing on their farms.
Here are some great resources to help you eat local in the Philly area. If you live outside Philly, just Google the following for your area: CSA, Community Supported Agriculture, buying clubs, and farmers market.
Farm to City
Farm to Philly
If you have any questions about being involved with a CSA or anything else about eating local, please feel free to post your questions here or email me. Even if I don't have the answers, I will try to point you in the right direction. Eating local is something I really believe in. Knowing where your food is coming from and who is producing it is important to me. I rather eat food produced on a small farm where I can ask the farmer at the market how the food is grown or the animals raised than food produced on a huge "factory" farm with a generic "organic" label on it.