Cooperative Farming

It has been my contention that out of the coming economic chaos, innovative strategies would emerge that would allow us to build a sustainable new kind of localized economic infrastructure, more appropriate for a world of $6 gas. Meet Tim Fuller, one of the managers of Erehwon Farm, one of 1500 experiments in Community Supported Agriculture that have emerged in the last three years. It is a variation on the old notion of Cooperative Farming.

The shareholders of Erehwon Farm have open access to the land and a guaranteed percentage of the season’s harvest of fruit and vegetables for packages that range from about $300 to $900. Arrangements of fresh-cut blossoms twice a month can be included for an extra $120 — or for the deluxe package, $220 will “feed the soul” with weekly bouquets of lilies and sunflowers and other local blooms. Shareholders are not required to work the fields, but they can if they want, and many do.

As gas prices rise, the whole industrial agriculture system, unique to this country, will have to change. The notion of importing fresh blueberries by air from Peru will begin to be cost prohibitive. The salmonella outbreaks from giant industrial farms in the Imperial Valley that sit next to cattle feed lot cesspools will become less attractive. What Community Supported Agriculture does is allow the local organic farmer to plan his season and run a sustainable local business, supported by local customers.

It is the essence of The New Federalism.

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0 Responses to Cooperative Farming

  1. Mark Murphy says:

    LocalHarvest ( seems to be a good site to find one of these in your local area.

  2. Rick Turner says:

    Ever drive by a cattle feed lot? There’s a doozy belonging to Harris Ranch on the I-5 in California’s Central Valley. The stench is enough to turn anyone into a vegan. Yet there’s an organic dairy up in Marin, Strauss, that is turning cow shit into methane to power a generator. They’ve got a big tent over the manure pit to collect the methane.

  3. Hugo says:

    This is wonderful reportage, Jon, thank you. Good news for a change. How to make more?

    Well, our old friend Jonah won’t like this, but We da Peeps can FORCE it out of each and every state, onnacounta the Morrill Act and progeny. And what that means is that the Obama Administration can set the kinds of sustainable parameters you describe, frame them in the context of the Morrill charters, and basically dictate that each state either innovate in the direction you’re describing or lose (to use the metaphor of one of our postmoddy correspondents): either Door No. 1, its A&M school, which will under the terms of the Act[s] become the posession of US; or, Door No. 2. the value of the thousands of acres given by The Peeps to make that school, which land-value becomes the property AGAIN of We da Peeps; or, behind Door No. 3: the feds move in, in da nam-a We da Peeps, and make it happen for us—if necessary, the 101st Airborne Division, bayonets very affixed.

    Fascistic? Sure. I suppose. But a deal’s a deal.

    And the deal was sealed was Abraham Lincoln.

  4. STS says:

    I’ve been a very happy CSA supporter in past years and expect to get signed up another one before long.

    Jon, Ever heard Elizabeth Warren (Harvard Law) talk about the future of the middle class? Fascinating — and harrowing — stuff. Very a propos of your New Federalism/Interregnum memes.

  5. Jon Taplin says:

    Hugo- I think you have a good point. All the Land Grant Universities have to get on board the innovation train. We do have more leverage than we think.

  6. pond says:

    I’d love to believe this. I have a share in a CSA about half a mile from our house.

    But it’s also true that whenever a state has freed serfs and given peasants ownership of their land and crops, the economy soars and wealth ensues. However, the big landowners usually own the government and resist this to the last step.

    Remember what happened as the Roman Empire collapsed? Manorial farms grew only bigger, and the workers became slaves.

    And I notice that out of Washington, the loudest voices raised regarding the world crisis in food have been from the big agribusiness companies, saying that their patented, owned, and GMO crops are the only way forward to feed the world.

  7. flyingtomato says:

    A couple of my CSA members forwarded me this article last week. It seems to suggest that Community Supported Agriculture is a new phenomenon, but CSA has been going strong in the Madison, Wisconsin area (and other locales as well) for over a decade.

    I started my CSA service three and a half years ago in the small town of Vermillion, South Dakota after having worked on one of the farms outside Madison. It’s relatively new here in South Dakota, but we are notoriously slow to adopt here in the land of corn and soybeans.

  8. Pingback: Community Supported Agriculture and the New Federalism « Flying Tomato Farms

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