On my way home from the gym last night, riding uptown on the M15 bus, a man gave me a banana. Turned out he had just stopped by his friend's farm share, and had an entire bag of fruits and veggies, most of which he wouldn't be able to eat before next week's bag. We started talking when he confused the scent of my orange for the tangeringes he'd just picked up, which is when he casually mentioned the farm share, to which I instinctively responded, "I wish I had a farm share!" This prompted him to turn his music off, turn around and tell me all about the world of CSAs.
From my banana man, I learned that farm shareholding is like a business partnership or "a mutual commitment between a farm and a community of supporters that provides a direct link between the production and consumption of food." Those who wish to participate can pay farmers around the country in advance, money that will go toward anything the grower/producer needs for his seasonal crop: seeds, fertilizer, water, equipment maintenance, labor, etc. My banana man said that members can pay in one lump sum before the season starts or set up a payment plan. (For his own farm share, he paid three installments of $60.) In return, the farmers provide members with a weekly bag of fresh produce throughout the working season, usually from late spring to early fall¢a beautiful circle of life!
I did a little more research online and learned that this very resourceful and pro-community practice actually dates back to 30 years ago, when a group of women in Japan, worried about increasing produce imports and the decreasing farming population, were prompted to create direct relationships with their local farms. The Japanese word for their arrangement is "teikel," which means ¢putting the farmer's face on food." In 1985, the U.S. and Canada adopted the practice and renamed it.
My banana man said that his friend's farm share was in Florida (I think; I didn't hop the bus pen in hand). He picked up his bag, which contained parsley, shallots, carrots, oranges, bananas (which he doesn't like), cucumbers (which he really likes) and more from a station around 23rd Street (or east 6th Street), where his truck pulls in. There are a number of stations around New York. For information on how to become a shareholder, and where to find your own farm share, visit
localharvest.org –Brynn Mannino
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