I am looking into participating with a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), and I am interested in doing it for our family but also interested in looking at options for encouraging members of our church and community to do it as well. A new friend was telling me about her experience with helping a church become a drop-off site for a grower, and members of the community would come to the church to pick up their weekly produce. They had to gather something like twenty subscribers to qualify as a drop-off location, but it proved to be a wonderful connection between the church, their neighbors, and local farm.

Does anyone have experience doing this? Anyone in the Shoreline area interested in exploring this?

I grew up shopping at the Pike Place market with my parents, and we were on a first-name basis with the growers, sellers, coffee roasters (at a little storefront coffee shop called Starbucks), and butchers who supplied our home with food. Not to mention the artists and craftsmen whose pictures and utensils and jewelry we used. I also remember shopping at Safeway and QFC, but the market community was the place where I felt connected to what we bought and ate and used. I don’t see the massive carts at Costco giving my kids that same sense of connection to what we consume, and that is one of my motivations (not to mention great, fresh food!) in pursuing this.

From Local Harvest:
CSA reflects an innovative and resourceful strategy to connect local farmers with local consumers; develop a regional food supply and strong local economy; maintain a sense of community; encourage land stewardship; and honor the knowledge and experience of growers and producers working with small to medium farms. CSA is a unique model of local agriculture whose roots reach back 30 years to Japan where a group of women concerned about the increase in food imports and the corresponding decrease in the farming population initiated a direct growing and purchasing relationship between their group and local farms. This arrangement, called “teikei” in Japanese, translates to “putting the farmers’ face on food.” This concept traveled to Europe and was adapted to the U.S. and given the name “Community Supported Agriculture” at Indian Line Farm, Massachusetts, in 1985. As of January 2005, there are over 1500 CSA farms across the US and Canada.

CSA is a partnership of mutual commitment between a farm and a community of supporters which provides a direct link between the production and consumption of food. Supporters cover a farm’s yearly operating budget by purchasing a share of the season’s harvest. CSA members make a commitment to support the farm throughout the season, and assume the costs, risks and bounty of growing food along with the farmer or grower. Members help pay for seeds, fertilizer, water, equipment maintenance, labor, etc. In return, the farm provides, to the best of its ability, a healthy supply of seasonal fresh produce throughout the growing season. Becoming a member creates a responsible relationship between people and the food they eat, the land on which it is grown and those who grow it.


  1. I’m now in my second year with a CSA, and I love it. It has tranformed the way I eat, and I’ve learned to cook with and enjoy all kinds of things I would have passed right by in the grocery store. (Okra, anyone?) I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

  2. It’s so funny you wrote about this! I just heard a thing on NPR about it today, and we’re very interested. We used Organic Roots for awhile, and they were fabulous, but if we could do a CSA deal and have church be the drop-off point, it would be even better. Let me know if you want help organizing!

  3. Candace,

    Let’s do it! So far that is us, Ingrid, and you…only seventeen households to go! We need to figure out a way to get the word out, both in our church family and in the neighborhood, pretty quickly if we want to do it in time for Summer. Fun!

  4. I love our CSA. As Teresa mentioned, it’s a great discipline for eating well and learning to overcome your fear of new ingredients! Our farm is only a mile or two from the house, so pickups are easy. Hope it works out to organize a pickup location at your church — sounds like a great way to meet some neighbors.

  5. Being progressive about food can be challenging.

    We’ve supported various agri-cooperative, organic, ‘get a local face on the food’ schemes over the years too and get why that’s important.

    My daughter recently served as the ‘kitchen goddess’ (‘cook and buyer’ in the prosaic language of most of us over the age of 40 ;^) at a room and board organic cooperative at Stanford.

    We’ve been all in re supporting the local organic farming yokel.

    Here’s the thing, though.

    That ‘put a face on the organic local produce’ approach among liberal types in the developed world mostly damages poor farmers and the agricultural economies that depend on them in the developing world.

    If you’re interested in serving really poor people in the developing world, at least in the short run, better to shop at places like Safeway (which get a lot of their food from poor overseas markets) and do all you can to end the agricultural tariffs we erect to block produce from poor countries and the subsidies we give to our own farmers.

    I wish our choices were more cut and dried.

  6. Tom,

    I really appreciate what you’ve added to the discussion here. Can you point me toward some resources that would help flesh out this tension a bit more?


  7. Yes please! I have grand intentions of making it to the farmer’s market every weekend but I’d probably do better if it (in part) came to me. Please put me (us!!) on the list. 🙂

  8. Sure.

    Some resources.

    Best ‘big picture’ book:

    “The End of Poverty” by Jeff Sachs.
    Sachs is the economist behind a lot of the best practical work on behalf of the poor around the world. The book–basically, a history explaining how poor countries and people make their way out of abject poverty–was a NY Times best seller for a couple of years.

    Next best ‘big picture’ book. “Globalization and Its Discontents” by Joseph Stiglitz. Nobel Prize winner in economics with a take that many progressive evangelicals will appreciate while feeling challenged.

    Best ‘weekly’ input.

    “The Economist.”

    In my mind, a pretty essential read. Don’t be put off by the title. Strongest general interest mag around with great takes on culture, politics, religion, technology, and economics, with a format that focuses on various regions of the world.

    All of ’em try to explain–at least abstractly–how the mostly coastal, culturally elite thing for organic agriculture and local markets does and doesn’t do much good for the poorest people overseas.

    No really good evangelical take on current economics, and certainly no paragraph length explanation suitable for blog comments. Some smart Christian stuff in the past but mostly outdated by now.

    Our strong desire for relatively easy answers and our love/hate relationship with money–mostly love over the past thirty years–puts us at a disadvantage when trying to make sense of complicated and potentially dangerous/fruitful encounters with bread, bones and Benjamins :^)

  9. are you reading my mind? jeff and i were just talking about exactly this. a church from tustin came and gave their pitch to him about being far more green-conscious as a church, and one specific point was participating with a CSA and having our church be a drop off point. i’d be so into it. and pretty much everyone i’ve talked with feels the same. there are lots of them here in orange county, so we’re looking into it too. i hope it works for you! it seems like such an easy way to foster health on many different levels!

  10. Friends and I have split a CSA… meaning we each pick up produce every other week, because it was too much to use in one week. Just a thought for you in trying to gather 20 families..some might be more likely to participate if they can share with another family.

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