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Stand Up and Sign Up: Community Farms Need You Now

If you want to do something directly helpful about climate change, if you want to improve your family’s diet and health, if you want to increase food security in the region where you live, and if you want to support your local economy and help to create a better way to exist with the earth and each other, now is the time to act.

CSA Signup Day is Friday, February 26. Community farms and farmers (CSAs) need you, and you need them.

If your local farmers are going to be empowered to grow fresh, clean food for your household, and to steward the land in your name according to the highest ecological standards, then you need to stand up, step forward and sign up now.

CSA share - Creative Commons

February 26 has been identified as an optimum date for households and communities to take a stand in support their local farms and farmers by investing in a share of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). If the farmers know now that you are with them, they can move into spring with confidence and with the necessary resources to do their work on your behalf.

With cooperation and financial support up front, community farms can more effectively strive toward urgently practical ideals: drawing people together in healthy free-will association with one another to heal themselves and the land, while bringing forth the bounty and the beauty of the land.

The need for many thousands more community farms is becoming baldly apparent to all but the willfully ignorant. Yet another top-rank study, this one published earlier this month in the journal Nature Climate Change and last month in the open-access journal Environmental Research Letters, warns that delaying action on climate conditions will have a long-term profound impact.

"The next few decades offer a brief window of opportunity to minimize large-scale and potentially catastrophic climate change that will extend longer than the entire history of human civilization thus far,” the scientists concluded.

CSA farms are not the full answer to this great challenge, but for a host of reasons they are one critical and intelligent response to global climate and economic realities.

“CSAs are the most authentic connection between a farmer and eater,” according Simon Huntley, the creator of CSA Day and founder of Small Farm Central, a Pittsburgh-based technology company focused on providing web services to direct-market farms.

“For people who want to directly support local farms, CSAs are one of the best options.” according to Huntley. CSA has played a pivotal role in the farm-to-table movement.

In an email exchange with me, Huntley observed: “The second annual CSA Day is off to a great start with 419 farms participating in our directory as of today. It has really taken on a life of it's own and it becomes a moment where farms can ask their members to sign up at this time of year. Getting some capital in the bank to pay for seeds, greenhouse heat, labor, and all of the rest of the expenses of running a diversified small farm at this time of year is essential so farmers can focus on farming rather than worrying about finances.”

On CSA Signup Day many farmers offer discounts and promotions to people who want to support the farm by investing in a share. Then each week through the growing season the shareholders receive a box filled with the food produced at their community farm

CSA Signup Day this year (February 26) is about more than amplifying the numbers and the beneficial impacts of CSA, it’s also a day generally dedicated to the celebration of community-supported agriculture and the basic good it has brought for so many farms, so many families, and so many communities.

Anyone can participate in CSA Sign Up Day by signing up for a CSA on February 26th. For those looking for a CSA farm in their area to join, here are three online directories:

CSA Signup Day

US Department of Agriculture

Local Harvest

Photo of a CSA share courtesy of Flickr/Suzie's Farm, Creative Commons 2.0.

Journalist Steven McFadden is the author of 15 nonfiction books dealing with the land and our lives upon it. His most recent book is, Awakening Community Intelligence: CSA Farms as 21st Century Cornerstones. Links to all of his blog posts for MOTHER EARTH NEWS can be found here.

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