Thursday, January 31, 2008

Subscription Farming

It's no secret that vegetable gardening is beneficial for both our health and our wallets. Unfortunately, gardening just isn't my thing. I do well with house plants, and I often have good intentions when planting season comes around, but the reality is that I don't enjoy gardening and I'm not very good at it as a result.

This year, I've decided to take a different approach. I've signed up for a farm "subscription". In a nutshell, subscription farming is an arrangement where a farm (or several farms) sells "shares" of the produce grown there. The proceeds from the shares are used to pay administrative costs (seeds, tools, greenhouses, compost or organic fertilizer, etc.) and, ideally, yield the growers a bit of profit. For their money, subscribers get a variety of fresh (usually organically-grown) produce on a weekly basis.

Subscription farming and community sustainable agriculture (or community supported agriculture) are terms that are often used interchangeably. Although this will be my first year buying a subscription, the idea of subscription farming is not entirely new to me. My sister and brother-in-law ran a CSA farm for a few years and were quite successful at it. (For personal reasons, they no longer operate the farm as a CSA farm.) You can read more about CSA here and here.

Today I sent in my application for Rolling Prairie Farmers Alliance, a CSA operation I found on the LocalHarvest website. Because Rolling Prairie enrolls current subscribers first, I may be placed on a waiting list until there is an opening. Of course, I'm hoping I can become a member this season.

Naturally, our weather this growing season will also determine the quality, quantity and variety of the produce we receive each week. Part of the reason I chose Rolling Prairie is that it's a group of several growers and not just an individual farm. There is strength in numbers when it comes to battling nature, and with luck, even if one farm sustains damage from weather, there will still be produce available from the others.

I'm looking forward to this year's bounty. For me, much of the fun will be in trying vegetables I haven't tried in the past, either because I wasn't quite sure what to do with them or didn't want to buy them when I wasn't sure anyone in the family would like them. Now I'll be inspired to find recipes for them since I'll have them on hand and won't want them to go to waste

I'm not sure, until I start getting weekly shares and see how much food I'll get for my money, how this will affect the bottom line of our food budget. Of course, the value of the share shouldn't be measured in terms of quantity alone. Quality will need to be considered as well, and I expect the quality to exceed what I'm able to buy at most of the local grocery stores.

I'm looking forward to getting my shares. I'll keep you posted once I know whether or not I'm able to get a membership this season.


Dannalie said...

What an interesting idea. I look forward to hearing your experience with it.

Have a wonderful night!

DadGuy said...

Yeah, it is an interesting idea. Keep us posted on how it works out.

Donna said...

Here's a little prayer for you to get your shares and membership!!!

Lisa said...

I've never heard of such a thing. I wish there was one closer to me. I'll be watching for your posts on if you get your membership and how it goes.

Annie Jones said...

Lisa: I looked for something closer to our area. My sister always worked in very close contact with her local University Extension office when she was operating her CSA farm. But, when I checked at our Extension office in H'ville, they didn't know what I was talking about. :(