This semester, I have had the pleasure of working with six capstone students (Cory, JJ, Gabe, Sean, Kolby, and Austin) at NAU from January through May. This group has been one of the hardest working and most professional groups of capstone students I have worked with. I am excited to announce their project, that the Flagstaff EcoRanch and Tree-a-Lolly Farm in Doney Park run by Peggy Pollak, will be partnering to offer a low cost CSA that will support Coconino County WIC (Women, Infants, and Children).
This is a 100% student designed and developed CSA. The students were first tasked with conducting a feasibility study on 20 CSAs in Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico focusing on high elevation farms. They analyzed what products were included in shares, marketing strategies the farms used, and the cost and length of time for each share. Next, the students analyzed our harvest data from 2013 to 2016, compared it to their research, and then applied what they learned to their own CSA program. Finally, the students developed a website, outreach materials, and blog posts for their CSA.
We are starting small, selling ten shares this year, and for every share we sell, we will be donating a 1/2 share to WIC. We hope this collaboration will get healthy, locally grown produce to families in need but also raise awareness about WIC’s voucher program. This program gives WIC members vouchers to use at the Flagstaff Farmer’s Market which starts this month in the parking lot of City Hall.
We are offering shares for $250 for a 20 week period, June through mid October. Student interns will be managing the plant health, recording harvest data, delivering produce, and collecting feedback from our share members. Although not as abundant as the one from the “Flagstaff CSA and Local Market,” which most people are familiar with, the produce in our CSA will be 100% local to Flagstaff and grown and managed by local students, teachers, and community members. We already have a waiting list and if everything goes well (planting, weather, crop health, etc.) we plan to offer 10 week shares starting in August as the harvests become more abundant.
Part of the students’ project was to write an educational blog post so I included it below. If you have any questions about our CSA please send us an email and we hope to grow you food in the future.
Relative to human history, the idea of NOT eating locally produced food is a new phenomenon. Prior to industrial agriculture, food consumed within a community was inevitably produced in close proximity. It has only been within the last six decades or so that modern transportation and refrigeration has allowed produce to cross both nation-wide and international borders. There now exists a food culture in the US where “local” food items are the exception, and not the rule. However, in recent years the inevitable negative health and environmental consequences of industrial agriculture began to manifest, causing an emergence and rise in the demand for locally sourced food.
Community Supported Agriculture is an agreement between local farms and supporting members of the community to consolidate the production and consumption of locally produced food. In return for a financial contributory stake prior to the growing season, members receive a weekly share of freshly harvested, local produce and specialty items. By supporting local farmers, members assume the risk and bounty of local food production alongside the farmers themselves. This connection between a supporting community and the farmers they endorse helps to bridge the ever-growing gap between food production and consumption. Moreover, this bridge continually fosters a symbiotic relationship between the land, the farmers, and the supporting members of a given community.
Rekindling the connection between local farmers and the community they support is the first step toward an agricultural system that promotes sustainability and empowers education. A functional CSA serves as a catalyst to revamp the diminished connection between the production and consumption of food.
The Flagstaff EcoRanch and Tree-A-Lolly Farm CSA collaboration will operate from June through mid-October with shares costing $250 each. For every share sold, a half share will be donated to W.I.C (Women, Infants, and Children), a charity organization that gives nutritional aid to vulnerable nursing women, infants, and children under 5 years. Weekly shares will include 3-4 lbs of organically grown produce harvested from the Flagstaff EcoRanch and Tree-A-Lolly Farm. Occasionally, specialty items such as eggs, herbs, and dried/canned items will supplement weekly shares. Shares will also include a list of recommended recipes or preparations that will help members better utilize items in the weekly share. Furthermore, educational information will be disseminated weekly such as storage techniques, ways to utilize all parts of a given item, health and environmental benefits of locally sourced food options, and suggestions for a more sustainable lifestyle.