Awakening Community Intelligence: CSA Farms as 21st-Century Cornerstones

Reader Contribution by Steven Mcfadden
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Over the last decades, many people in all parts of the world have come to recognize Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) as a vehicle for approaching land, food, labor, environment and community in a healthier way.

Now, in an era with increasing shadows of environmental catastrophe, it’s time to expand exponentially the CSA vision and reality. The opportunity is before us.

What is Community-Supported Agriculture?

CSA is a social and economic arrangement in which communities – neighborhoods, churches, workplaces, and so forth – willingly share responsibility with specific farmers for producing, delivering, enjoying and honoring the food that sustains them. The community supports the farm, and the farm supports the community.

In theory and generally in practice, the associations integral to CSA foster mutual respect. CSA has thus emerged as a dynamic pathway linking human beings and their communities directly in free-will association with nearby farms and the farmers who cultivate the earth on their behalf.

These farmers may rightly be regarded as our ambassadors to the earth. Rather than making war on nature, they strive to cooperate intelligently and thereby maintain respectful relations. They are making an important and positive difference in the world. Much more is necessary. Much more is possible.

CSAs as Cornerstones of Community

To a greater or lesser extent, each CSA establishes itself as a kind of cornerstone to anchor and orient the community that supports it. CSAs offer an approach to land and food that works economically and sustainably as a 21st-century model adaptable to a changing world.

Our civilization is now reckoning with profound disruptions associated with climate change, resource depletion and geopolitical instability. Of critical note, this year 30 of the world’s largest insurance companies, known for their conservativism, have established a formal coalition (SmarterSafer) to sound the alarm, and let people, corporations and governments know that we face increasingly extreme circumstances.

The transition may be perilous and costly for everyone. Meanwhile, Standard & Poor’s Rating Service – the world’s foremost credit-ranking company – has issued a report saying that the credit ratings of sovereign countries will be adversely affected by global climate change.

These hard realities are indisputable. Only the willingly blind can fail to see the necessity of embarking now on a vigorous, wholehearted journey toward sustainability for home, community, nation, and planet. We must respond to our circumstances, or be overwhelmed.

Both globally and locally, we absolutely require intelligent strategies to reduce our vulnerability, to build resilience, and to reckon with the increasing disruptions of climate change and our pervasive pattern of planetary pollution and resource depletion. CSA farms stand out as promising models, models with a noteworthy track record.

Find or Start a CSA Near You

Our survival requires not just the intelligent actions of individuals but also hundreds of thousands of communities of human beings who have had their inate intelligence awakened, and who thus realize the fundamental link between life and land. In this regard, Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) provides a useful and egalitarian model.

The online resource directory Local Harvest is helpful for many people who want to find an existing CSA, but community groups — neighborhoods, churches, clubs and workplaces — can cooperate to form the nucleus for the thousands of new CSAs that are needed.

Photo by Keith Payne, Wikimedia Commons: Cornerstone detail, temple of Pharoh Khafre, Nile Valley, Egypt.

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