Tuesday is a special day for me. It is the day that I have local, organically grown vegetables from a farm in Moultrie, GA delivered to me. Every Tuesday Michael Morton, who has been dubbed “the gentleman farmer” by one of the CSA members, loads up his Honda CRV and comes to Albany to bring us farm fresh vegetables, whole grain bread baked that morning, eggs and any other goodies he and his family have harvested or created that week. All of the members gather at our pick-up spot as Michael tells us about the food he has brought us for the week. Usually his wife, Jeanine or daughter, Adeline accompany Michael to bring us our food share.
Calathora Farms is a family-owned and operated farm headed by Michael Morton. Three generations live and work on this farm that produces vegetables, free range eggs, grass-fed beef, honey, pastured poultry, bread, jams and jellies.
So what is a CSA?
CSA stands for community supported (or shared) agriculture. CSAs originated in Japan and Europe in the 1960s in response to concern over the loss of arable land, food safety, increases in imported food and food system structure changes. The food system structure changes have led to worldwide losses of many small and mid size farms which have been bought up by large agribusinesses. All CSAs have a similar structure. A farmer will offer a certain number of “shares” to the community. A share will typically consist of a box of seasonal vegetables or other farm offerings such as meat, bread, honey, jam and jelly. The “shareholders” are provided a box of seasonal produce, typically on a weekly basis that may be delivered to them or picked up at a designated location. As a community made up of the farmer and the shareholders, there is a degree of shared risk. If bad weather, insects or other unforeseen conditions ruin the harvest, everyone shares the loss. This shared loss or sense thereof usually creates a stronger bond between the farmer and CSA members. As with all businesses, CSAs throughout the world have many differences in their business model and structure. Some operations will require members to give their time to help with farm chores such as weeding, watering, & harvesting as a part of the share price. In addition to a farm offering produce as a share, actual shares of a the farm may also be sold. Another business model is where a group of people (the members) buy or lease land and then hire a farmer to produce the food.
It has been a delight to get a weekly bag of produce. I love not knowing what my bag will contain until it is put in my hands. Lately, I have been receiving arugula, green beans, red okra (who knew there was such a thing?!?), bean sprouts, fresh peas, peppers, radishes, green onions, granola and whole grain bread. All of the food is so delicious and truly tastes as if it has just been plucked from the earth. In addition to the many benefits this fresh food gives to me, my body and my health I am proud that its’ purchase directly supports a member of my community. By purchasing food produced locally, I am reducing the “food miles” spent on this food, therefore decreasing the amount of petroleum needed to get food to my plate. Also, as a food security and justice advocate I believe that local, sustainable food systems are necessary to alleviate hunger and bring about important changes to the unsustainable food system that is currently in place.
Calathora Farms, thank you for what you are doing. The food you grow is important to the health of our community and planet! It has been great to get to know you. Love you locals GA!
See pics from my weekly share below.