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CSAs provide seasonal food each week

Muddy Fork Farm co-managers Samuel Sneller, left, and Cameron Dennis stand with baby Walela Inanna.

Ellen Pill

Influenced by European and Japanese farmers, Community Supported Agriculture was probably first introduced in this country in the 1980s.
Mary Gnizak of Adonai Acres farm in Holmes County offers three seasons of CSAs. She explained her understanding of the Japanese influence. "It's about knowing where your food comes from, knowing how it's grown. It started in Japan, where housewives wanted to go straight to the farm and buy fresh food."
The CSA model of farming is based on the concept of creating, supporting and enhancing community through local residents supporting local agriculture. Although the term CSA is primarily used in the U.S., this model can be found throughout the world. In Japan it is called Teikei, which can be translated to mean "alliance."
Sam Sneller, the co-manager of Muddy Fork Farm in Wayne County, described how his CSA works. "People who join our CSA become shareholders in our farm's produce for the season. A member pays up front to have a share, and then during the growing season, we deliver fresh, in-season produce every week to each shareholder."
The CSA model allows small-scale farmers to have the security and funds they need to help sustain their business. It also goes beyond business needs to touch on an old-fashioned concept: knowing the people who grow food.
"Farming is a revolutionary act," Sneller said. "If you want to help bring positive change to your community, support a local farmer. The CSA is a great model for local foods as it allows the customer to have a direct relationship with the producer and their food."
"I love the connection with the customers," Gnizak said.
For the farmer, having a CSA means having some level of security and a greater ability to plan. "If you know how many people you must provide for, then you know what you need to grow, how much you need to grow, etcetera, to meet those needs," Sneller said.
"Having the CSA really helps us at the get go," Gnizak said, "especially in the spring and summer because that is when we have spent all our money for seed and amendments for the soil. You are investing in the small farm right up front."
It also means the farmer personally knows the people eating his or her food and vice versa. "Operating a CSA is extremely rewarding as a grower," Sneller said. "We put our heart and soul into the food we grow, and it is fulfilling to send it to someone that you know each week and then hear about how much they enjoyed it the next week."
Gnizak echoes those sentiments and explained her enjoyment of introducing customers to vegetables they might not be familiar with. At Adonai Acres she loves growing a variety, from noodle beans, to different kinds of tomatillos, to unusual cucumbers.
"People who want to do a CSA have to love vegetables and be open to trying new things and recipes," Gnizak said.
In supporting local agriculture, "you lessen the impact of globalization," Sneller said.
By eliminating the middleman, consumers know their food dollars are remaining in the local economy. "You can see and taste a farmer's ethics," Sneller said.
Beyond providing top-quality food, the farms give back to the community by "preserving land, investing in local economies and businesses, and enriching a community with bio-regional knowledge."
Receiving fresh food weekly also means a greater connection to the seasons and how they are connected to the food we eat. Rather than the constant supermarket display of every sort of produce from all corners of the world week after week, the foods in a CSA basket vary from week to week as the growing season progresses. It's one way of reconnecting to the earth.
Muddy Fork Farm has spots available for the second half of its summer CSA, either as a subscription or on a weekly basis. For more information email Sneller at samuel.sneller@gmail.com.
Adonai Acres is seeking members for its winter Farmer's Pantry CSA, which will run from November through December/January. Email Gnizak at praisetohimgnizak@gmail.com.

Published: July 14, 2017
New Article ID: 2017170719978