CSA Farms are a Righteous Response to Climate Emergency & Food-System Shock

Right around the start of the year climate scientists began to use a new phrase to talk about the condition of our Earth. Climate emergency, they began to say. In so doing they were giving voice to the hard truth that, in the view of many climatologists, we’ve already tipped the scales past a point of no return. We are living out the early stages of massive, planet-wide climate upheaval.

tornadClimate distortion has been speeding up year after year and the distortions are continuing to accelerate according to NASA. Earth has just endured seven straight months of record-shattering heat. Thus, in 2016 we are on track to experience the largest increase ever in global temperature.

Just before climate scientists began uttering the phrase “climate emergency,” the prestigious international insurance company, Lloyd’s of London, issued a formal report titled Food System Shock. The report spoke bluntly of acute disruptions to the global food supply. Meanwhile, 30 of the world’s largest insurance companies, known for their conservative approach in all matters, established a formal coalition (SmarterSafer) to sound the alarm about our extreme circumstances. Climate chaos is happening, and it’s going to be increasingly costly and perilous for everyone.

There is an urgent need to reckon with the impact to our environment and our food, an ominous message being articulated by many learned groups, including The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

It’s dangerous to remain distracted or asleep about these hard realities. It’s past time to wake up. We are well underway in an era of profound changes in our climate and economics as well as our health and social well-being.

With respect to this, I’m sounding a call for the establishment of hundreds of thousands more sustainable farms on the model of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). There is much to be gained for everyone.

Farmers cannot do this alone, especially not if CSA is pursued as some kind of a “marketing model.”  To thrive in our extreme era, CSA cannot be downgraded to a competitive selling system dependent on “customers.”  CSA was never intended for that purpose. CSA embodies the potential for a new way of life upon the land for farm, farmers and supporting community. The economics are associative, rather than competitive or exploitive. Some progress has been made in that direction, and much more is possible.

The wide array of community based initiatives to increase local food production that have emerged over the last 30 years (ranging from farm-to-school lunch programs and farmer’s markets, to reward programs for restaurants that buy food locally, and beyond) are all of tremendous value and importance.

But in my view, among all the initiatives and innovations, CSA stands out as a promising model for many millions of people and hundreds of thousands of communities. It’s a way for people to respond intelligently and strategically to our intensifying climate dilemma. CSA does not leave the great challenges of our era in the lap of farmers alone. At its intended potential, CSA draws upon the strength, intelligence and resources of all the people who of their free-will choice depend upon the farm.

Over the last three decades hundreds of thousands of people in the US and all parts of the world (URGENCI) have come to recognize in CSA a vehicle for approaching land, food, labor, environment, and community in a healthier way. The movement has made some noteworthy progress. Much more is necessary. Now we need many millions more to awaken to similar basic realizations about climate problems and CSA potentials.

CSAs are a righteous response to our unfolding climate emergency. They are resilient, egalitarian, and a fundamentally healthy foundation for the high-speed, high-tech digital culture emerging so dynamically in our world. CSAs have an established track record in America, Canada, Europe, Japan and around the world from east to west. The model has been tested and refined. It’s not government, and it’s not corporate. It’s a choice and a free will association with a farm and a farmer. Thousands of people have applied their intelligence and experience to create and cultivate the CSA model over the last 30 years.

Right now we need hundreds of thousands more communities to see the need and the potential, and to swiftly establish CSA farms.

CSA farms amplify food security. They involve diverse communities of people (from neighborhoods, churches and businesses) in sustainable farming activities that increase food security and quality, while at the same time building clean, healthy soil to trap greenhouse gases.

Right now one-third of all human-caused greenhouse-gas emissions come from industrial agriculture, as reported in Nature, the international weekly journal of science. Reducing agriculture’s carbon footprint is crucial to limiting climate change. CSA farms employ the principles of agroecology, which provides a robust set of solutions to environmental pressures and crises. Virtually all CSA farms are either organic or biodynamic. They sequester greenhouse gases, and help stabilize the earth’s climate. Hundreds of thousands of CSA farms around the world could help to make a difference.

In our era with increasing shadows of climate, environmental and social complications, it’s time to expand exponentially the CSA vision and reality. The opportunity is before us to establish hundreds of thousands of CSA farms in nations around the world, and to thereby employ a proven, egalitarian model to address our radically changing circumstances.

Community farms, in their many variations, can be key models for shifting our reality toward healthy.

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Sounding a call for hundreds of thousands more CSA Farms

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Would you rather participate in a nightmare or a vision? The nightmare is here and intensifying: climate chaos. Each person, each family, and each community has to reckon with it some way. Community farms (CSAs) are a clean, intelligent and strategic response.

As daily news reports awaken public awareness of profound changes in our climate, economics as well as in our environmental and social well-being, I’m sounding a call for the establishment of hundreds of thousands more sustainable farms on the model of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).

Over the last three decades hundreds of thousands of people in the US and all parts of the world have come to recognize in CSA a vehicle for approaching land, food, labor, environment, and community in a healthier way.

CSA farms amplify food security, and involve diverse communities of people (from neighborhoods, churches and businesses) in sustainable farming activities that increase food security while building healthy soil to trap greenhouse gases.

According to the USDA, as many as 12,000 new CSA farms have been established in the USA since 1986, directly linking people with the farmers who grow their food. Many thousands more CSA farms have taken root internationally.

I’ve been writing about CSA farms since their inception in the USA in the late 1980s. With Trauger Groh, I’m co-author of the first two books on CSA farms (Farms of Tomorrow in 1990, and Farms of Tomorrow Revisited in 1998). I’m also the author of The Call of the Land: An Agrarian Primer, and Awakening Community Intelligence: CSA Farms as 21st Century Cornerstones.

2016 biodynamic conference - horizontal bannerIn late 2015 I was honored to be the keynote speaker at the Midwest CSA Conference. Later this year I’ll present a workshop on CSA farms at the upcoming Tierra Viva (Farming the Living Earth) conference of the Biodynamic Association, to be held at the Santa Fe Convention Center, November 16-20, 2016). My intention is to keep sounding the call both near and far.

As I’ve reported, “In an era with increasing shadows of climate, environmental and social complications, it’s time to expand exponentially the CSA vision and reality. The opportunity is before us to establish hundreds of thousands of CSA farms in nations around the world, and to thereby employ a proven, egalitarian model to address the radically changing circumstances in our environment, climate, economics, and social relationships.”

Memes – Thought Awakeners – for Community Well-being

In recognition of the many personal, community and global benefits that arise from Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), I’ve created a series of memes to help awaken thought on the potentials that can be realized.

CSA farms are continuing to develop in nations around the world. They are arising not as initiatives of corporations or governments, but rather directly out of the intelligence and active free-will choices of individuals and communities (neighborhoods, regions, churches, workplaces, etc.). They see the challenges and opportunities, of our era, and they choose to respond with wisdom.

You are welcome to copy or download any or all of the following five memes, and to use them in any way (social media, etc.) that may help promote and advance your CSA farm or community food project, or help you to get one underway.  ~ Steven McFadden

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CSA1 CSA2

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CSA3 CSA4 CSA5

 

The Intensifying Impulse toward Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

For your consideration:
A meme I created this morning with a short quote from the books I co-authored with Trauger Groh:

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History is made by people who do things now.

Elizabeth and I went to the Lensic Theater in Santa Fe, New Mexico last night to hear Winona LaDuke and Mililani Trask speak as part of the Lannan Foundation’s programs on cultural freedom. Among the many insightful and rousing remarks they shared with the audience, one seemed to me particularly well suited for a meme:

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True Saga Commemorates an Epic American Spiritual Quest

Twenty years have come and gone, and thus I am moved to acknowledge and commemorate a great adventure for our era, and the telling of the true tale of that adventure as Odyssey of the 8th Fire.

The 8th Fire saga tells the real story of a great, long prayer walk in 1995-96 from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The story arises from the deepest roots of our land, but takes place in the present and the future. In it, circles upon circles, spiritual elders make a great and generous giveaway of the teachings they carry.

The actual writing of this epic-length, nonfiction story of the 2,500 mile prayer pilgrimage for the earth took place some 11 years after the final steps of the walk. I wrote Odyssey of the 8th Fire over the course of 225 consecutive days beginning in early summer 2007 and finishing in the deep of winter 2008.

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Elizabeth- 2015

At the time my wife Elizabeth Wolf and I were living on Calle Contento in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Over those intensely demanding 225 days, Elizabeth provided intellectual, emotional, creative and spiritual support in a thousand ways, and thereby made possible the writing and online publication of the epic, nonfiction saga Odyssey of the 8th Fire. While holding down a fulltime job at Blessingway Authors Services, she remained close to this project as my Muse, critic, and companion from the first word through the last. Her multitude of contributions made an enormous and enduring difference.

Thank you darling Elizabeth for making it possible to spin out in words this ambitious spiritual saga along the Beauty Way, and to make of it a great giveaway for the people. ~ S.M.

Here’s just a short take from the 8th Fire account of the final day of the long Walk for the Earth:

Day 225 – TWENTY YEARS AGO TODAY – February 2, 1996 – Odyssey of the 8th Fire

“We are a part of all that we have met. Yet, experience is an arch wherethro gleams that untravl’d world whose margin fades forever and forever when we move.” ~ Odysseus to Athena, at the end of The Odyssey

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Whirling Rainbow Skysign & Sandpainting

…Evelyn Commanda, representing the Algonquin peoples, held one end of the Seven Fires Wampum Belt, and Liz Dominguez, representing Chumash peoples, held the other end. Together, slowly and solemnly, they walked the belt out into the Pacific Ocean, where in a sacred manner they washed it with the waves…

…we were a circle of nearly 80 people representing all the colors of humanity, and many of its spiritual traditions.

We began to express ourselves, to pray. One of the things we gave thanks for on the beach was the tremendous support we enjoyed as we walked. So many wonderful people stopped, or went out of their way somehow to ensure that we succeeded as best we could. So many people responded, and helped us along.

Some people became very interested in the depth and specificity of the prophecies we carried, while others didn’t care very much about that kind of information at all. They just felt we were doing something worthwhile by walking, and that’s all they needed to know. They acted out of basic human goodness. Now in our final ceremony, we sent our gratitude and good feelings to Creator and all the helpers with our song and prayer for all…

Link to the full account of Day 225 of the Odyssey of the 8th Fire.

McFadden: Farms can be cornerstones for communities

The Country Today, a newspaper based in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, published a nice story this week about the keynote talk I gave there in Early December. My talk was titled “Awakening Community Intelligence: CSA Farms as 21st Century Cornerstones.” Here’s a link to the story.

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Community Farmers Convene in America’s Heartland

For dozens of reasons, it’s time to convene in America’s heartland a conference of farmers involved in Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA).

Thanks to the artful community collaboration of 15 farm organizations* – anchored by the Wisconsin Farmers Union – just such a gathering will happen December 3-4, 2015, in Eau Claire, Wisconsin: The Midwest CSA Conference: Moving Forward Together…

…CSA is a unique model and thus deserves it’s own special gathering every couple of years to refresh the vision. Are CSA farms just a passing agrarian fantasy, or can they serve as enduring cornerstones for community and ecosystem renewal in our region and beyond? CSA is continuing to evolve as a resilient model in an era of rapid change…

At the conference I will have an opportunity to give a keynote talk: Awakening Community Intelligence: CSA Farms as 21st Century Cornerstones.

The rest of the story about the CSA conference is here in my blog for Mother Earth News.

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Heroes and Heroines in Crisis

OK, I cranked up the meme machine this week and created this offering below on life’s adventure. May it honorably commemorate the 20th anniversary of our epic walk from America’s Eastern Door toward the Western Gate, striking sparks for the 8th Fire. For your consideration, here’s the meme:

heroes in crisis

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