Do Your Fieldwork
An article on community supported agriculture made front-page news in the New York Times two weeks ago. The article looks at CSA farms nationally and covers all the basic concepts of CSA, including one that I wasn’t familiar with: CSA members can, if they want to, get down and dirty and volunteer to do real work in the fields. Apparently, people in some CSAs across the country are planting, weeding, harvesting and doing other hard-core farm chores.
In New York City, opportunities to work on CSA farms are limited, due to the distance of the farms. However, New Yorkers can — and do — volunteer in another important way: they can get involved in forming and managing CSA groups in their neighborhoods and arranging all the logistics surrounding food drop-offs.
In New York City, the closest a CSA member can get to experiencing farm labor comes by way of “working days” that some CSA farms organize for their members. Garden of Eve Farm on Long Island, for example, has an “Open Farm Day and Tomato Picking,” where members pick tomatoes and work on family projects. Other farms offer “planting days,” according to Just Food, a New York City-based non-profit that supports CSA and other local food initiatives.
Some farms are even willing to set up times that individual CSA members can come by to work on specific farm chores. For some people, said Just Food’s Paula Lukats, it’s a way to get a “sense of how much work farming is.” And for others, I bet, it’s a way to get even more connected to the food they eat and appreciate it more.