Crestone Eagle, April 2003:
Creating a sustainable local food
by Jo delAmor
upon a time families and communities grew their own food.
They ate with the seasons and lived in close relationship
with the Earth. Over the course of a few generations our cultural
norm has shifted significantly from producing and eating local
food to buying food created by agribusiness and shipped from
the far reaches of the globe. Unfortunately, this uses alot
20th century agricultural changes
Until the 20th century many cultures in the world practiced
traditional farming methods that were entirely sustainable.
These methods were developed with an understanding of natural
cycles and the importance of supporting and caring for the
environment that provides the food. Because many of these
cultures were relying on the same area of land to put forth
food for hundreds or thousands of years, sustainability was
integral. Even in young America, with the wide-open spaces
that lent themselves to less sustainable development, organic
farming was the only way until the 20th century. It wasn't
until the end of WWI that agricultural chemicals became available.
With the end of WWII, the use of nitrogen fertilizers transformed
American agriculture from a sustainable system of food production
to a system that required greater amounts of fertilizer and
chemical supplements every year. Over the decades, this has
meant the depletion of our topsoil, the erosion of our nutrition,
and the disappearance of the small family farm.
This scenario is not limited to the United States. The chemical
companies and the farm machinery industry began peddling their
wares in other countries as well. Agribusiness was born and
the ancient, sustainable practices of many cultures across
the world were replaced by modern chemical farming techniques.
Today the small family farm is seldom able to compete with
multinational agribusiness. More information is available
in Secrets of the Soil by Peter Tompkins and Christopher
Bird, The One Straw Revolution by Fukuoka Manasobu
and Coming Home to Eat by Gary Paul Nabhan.
So what do we do? Choose to buy and eat "pure"
food? The truth is that it has gotten harder and harder as
the local and pristine resources that once existed have become
fewer and farther between. As consumers, it is certainly difficult
to chose to acquire a product locally if that product is not
being produced by anyone in the area. The solution is two-fold.
First, we must work together as a community to begin providing
for more of our needs within the community. Second, we must
reevaluate what we need and change our habits accordingly.
When it comes to food, that means supporting local food production
efforts and choosing to value what can be grown locally and
sustainably by paying its worth and eating with the seasons.
We are fortunate to live in a rural community in an agricultural
valley. We have not been overrun by the multinationals; our
land has not yet been poisoned beyond repair, and there are
still people in the area that grow food for a living. We have
a lot to work with. With reasonable augmentation, community
cooperation and foresight we could create some truly sustainable
local options for acquiring food.
The Council for Sustainability and Self-Reliance has recently
established a committee to consider this topic for the Crestone/Baca
community and to begin to implement some strategies for increasing
the availability of quality local food. It is called the Sustainable
Food Guild, and its mission is “to develop a sustainable
local food supply for the Crestone/Baca community.”
Members intend to start by supporting the projects already
in place, and then step forward to fill the gaps in the local
food supply. It will be a long-term endeavor to create a truly
sustainable local food supply, but there are many things that
can be done right away to begin the process. The priorities
that the Guild has identified thus far are as follows:
•Promoting the existing local CSAs;
•Creating a viable local Farmer's Market;
•Networking private growers with their neighbors.
If we work together as a community, we can enjoy and support
the bounty of the Earth. If you want to become involved in
any aspect of local food production or have any information
that could assist this effort, please call Jo at 580-1141.
The Local CSAs
Community Supported Agriculture is a system through which
consumers share the burden and benefits of growing food with
the farmer that grows it. They invest money and/or effort
at the beginning of the season in exchange for produce throughout
the season. There are many ways of setting up such a system.
Three such examples exist within the Valley and are available
for any interested participants from our community.
The Atalanta Community Garden, located in the Baca Grants
by Willow Creek, uses the traditional 'box scheme' method.
With this method, members pay a fixed amount at the beginning
of the season for their membership ($250 nonworking; $100
working) for which they receive a share of produce per week
throughout the season. The shares for Atalanta members will
include a variety of garden vegetables and medicinal herbs,
as the season provides.
Green Earth farm in Saguache utilizes a 'voucher' system
for their members. In this system, members pay a minimum of
$250 by the end of April and place orders throughout the season,
that are then deducted from the original amount. This arrangement
may offer more selectivity on the items received and some
flexibility for those who would be out of town for parts of
White Mountain Farm in Mosca offers a program in which members
pick their own produce. The charge is $150 for a family of
2 and $250 for a family of more than 2. Members are asked
to pick only what they'll eat. All three of the CSA farms
in the Valley are fully organic and provide quality food grown
with care. I encourage anyone who is interested to contact
the farms with your inquiries. See contact information on
this page. Happy Spring and may you find the local food source
that is right for you!
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