Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is an agrarian movement that arose in America starting in the 1980s. In an era of general farm consolidation and industrialization, CSA has continued to develop. By now there are many thousands of farms and many hundreds of thousands of households networked directly with local farms.
The initial vision of CSA arose in the context of wide recognition of the necessity for renewal of agriculture through its healthy linkage with the human community that depends on farming for survival. The vision united farmers and consumers in an agrarian relationship for the health of people and planet, and explicitly recognized the necessary stewardship of soil, plants, and animals: the essential capital of human cultures. CSA emerged as a web of relationships.
Recently I had an opportunity to engage in conversation about the movement and its future with two renowned CSA farmers: Jean-Paul Courtens of Roxbury Farm in New York, and Allan Balliett of Fresh and Local CSA in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.
My thanks to Allan for creating and hosting BDnow Podcast 017 (The Future of CSA), and to Jean Paul for sharing his experience and insight.
As it happens, I must demur on the matter of “foremost…philosopher,” which is a descriptor applied to me in the podcast. CSA farms arose as a community supported concept. “The idea of CSA was in the air in the late 1980s.” Many different people were contributing to the thoughts and practices, including Jan Vander Tuin, John Root, Jr., Andrew Lorand, Robyn Van En, Elizabeth Henderson, Anthony Graham, Lincoln Geiger, and Alice Groh. Trauger Groh – my coauthor on Farms of Tomorrow and Farms of Tomorrow Revisited – had a profound and eloquent grasp of farming and of the budding CSA vision. My role with CSA in those days, and ongoingly, has been not to philosophize, but rather to listen closely and then to write about what I learn.
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