Wednesday, 25 March 2009

CSA-related survey....

We have joined our CSA again this year, and I feel quite fortunate that it is fairly close to our place, given the distances that people normally travel in this country/province. It is about the same distance to the CSA as it is to the town we normally go grocery shopping in, that is, about a half-hour trip by car, one way.

I have a couple questions for people who are members of a CSA farm, or who would consider being members of one:

1) How long does it take you to get to your CSA (or drop off point) going by car, bike or on foot?

2) How far/long would you be willing to travel once a week to get to a CSA (or drop off point)?

Any and all feedback appreciated - thanks!


Eco Yogini said...

I actually have no idea if there is a CSA in Halifax. I mean, the "food box" we subscribed to will most likely be a CSA-type in the summer when we can get the "dharma" box- all local all organic...

1. they deliver (if the "food box" is a CSA...)

2. If there was one- I would probably drive about a half hour tops (especially if I lived in the village where I grew up, the nearest town is 30 min away).
Driving more than a half hour sounds a bit much. Most places I've lived there are major towns etc at least 30 min away so a drop off point should be arrangeable.

Otherwise, you either live in the country country or in a big city. The first I would probably be growing my own veggies in a little garden. The second, the farmer's would probably be willing to come to me (farmer's markets etc) for drop offs.

Good luck with your CSA!

Ryan said...

Glad you're back on the CSA train!

On Tuesday, myself and some members of our church are meeting up with a local farmer who's starting a CSA for this season. He'll actually be dropping boxes off at the church during the week, and we're going to store them in the basement to presumably be picked up on Sundays.

Anyway, the answers would be:

a)20 minutes by foot/c-train, 10 by car (going to avoid that part!)

b)I'd say 20 minutes if there were driving involved. If there isn't driving--up to 45 as long as most of that is via transit.

Theresa said...

Thanks you two - it's good to know what is considered reasonable in other parts of the country. We have to drive a half hour to get anywhere around here, so to me that seemed fairly reasonable. Shorter would certainly be nicer though. I do have the option of changing to a different pick-up point, and I may look more closely into that to see if I can shave some time off that.

EcoY - I wish we had a delivery service like that! We live to far out in the 'boonies' to qualify, unfortunately!

Ryan - Wow, coordinating it with Sunday services is perfect!

Ryan said...

Yeah, we figured the Sunday planning would not only be convenient, but would add that community element to the whole process. We're also hoping that a member of the farm family can be there for a meet & greet on a few Sundays in the summer.

This way it'll put a face to the veggies and make the issues surrounding more "real" when they can talk to someone on the front lines.

Theresa said...

That's such a good idea :) I know I sure like knowing who grows my food. I take a lot more care with it that way, and waste very little, since it would just be such an insult to to those who took the time and effort to grow it for me. I can see the farmer in the food :)

Beany said...

My CSA is a 10 min walk away. The walk is long because I have to climb a steep hill. If it were over 20 mins by bike I wouldn't have joined.

SoapBoxTech said...

I`ve been thinking about trying to convince my folks to try and set up a CSA but I worry that the work/income ratio would be too low for us at this point. So I am leaning more toward setting up rental plots since we are but 2 KM from a small town. Both will take a lot of convincing with my dad though. They tried this sort of thing in the 80`s but people weren`t too serious or responsible about it back then. It basically just ended up being a lot more work for my parents, without much additional income.

To answer your question tho, the farm is about a 20 minute drive from where I live. I drive a little truck so I get decent mileage. I wouldn`t bike it, even if I was back in shape, since most vehicles here have bicyclist-sights on their hoods. That`s the best answer I can give since the farm means I don`t have use for someone else`s CSA, as much as I support them morally.

I sure am hoping that people will drive that far in the winter for fresh produce tho, since I am seriously looking into building a large barn style year round greenhouse. The southern 2/3 (3 floors) would be growing space and the northern 1/3 will be a local market. I hope to be able to market the design as the northern 1/3 could be designed for any kind of use, restaurant, market, offices, living space, animal or fowl shelter.

Chile said...

In our current situation, it is 3 1/2 miles to the CSA. I used to bike there for my weekly volunteer work and pick-up. Now I drive because I was moved to Friday's pick-up. When I get off 'work' in the fall/winter, it's already dark, folks have already been drinking, and it would be hazardous to bike home. Now that it's still light when I leave, I'm ready to hop on the bike again.

Once we move, I suppose I'd be willing to drive further distances, at least until we get a garden going. Ultimately, it would be ideal to be within biking distance - to be determined by my fitness. :)

Theresa said...

Beany, a 10 minute walk is perfect! I can only imagine how convenient that would be!

SBT - I can't wait to see this year round greenhouse of yours become a reality - it seems like such a useful and versatile thing!

I am hoping to be able to grow much more of my own food eventually, but I have a lot more learning to do before that is remotely possible. So even though I'm out in the country and technically have enough land to grow much of the food I would need, I still want to be part of the CSA. I have a feeling the value I am getting from membership there is way more than the actual food itself - i.e., knowledge, practice and connection with a local food system that is likely to be more resilient and cooperative in tough times.

Chile - that's also nice and close! I'm figuring that most people with such nearby CSA's must be in more of an urban/town setting?

Thanks everyone for all your helpful feedback. It seems like my CSA is at the outside limit of what people are willing to travel, which is good for me to know, since I had thought it would be more close to the average.

SoapBoxTech said...

Theresa, not that I'm criticizing, but I am curious how many weeks you'd normally get out of your CSA? Part of my concern about running one up here is the incredibly short outside growing season. That is what has me looking more at some kind of medium scale sustainable "greenbarn" and local market network.

Thanks for the support btw...I can't wait til it is a reality either!

Theresa said...

Last year was the first year we were members of a CSA, and when I go back to count the weeks, I think it was about 17 weeks. The first and last few weeks had smaller than average deliveries, if I recall correctly, although there were some huge mid-season deliveries too.

I was going to the indoor farmer's market for a while after our deliveries were over, and the Hutterite Colony producers had veggies for several more weeks after that - I imagine they have a larger set up of some kind, with storage that means they can spread their harvest sales over a bit longer period, although I am speculating there...

Kiashu said...

We don't have CSAs here in Melbourne, Australia. I'd treat it like any other shopping, though - I'll do half an hour round trip daily powered by me or public transport, or half an hour round trip weekly using the car.

The closest we have are,
- CERES, which is an organic farm in the city, and on their market days other local producers can come and sell their produce; and
- Aussie Farmers Direct, where people get food delivered directly to their homes from farmers. Instead of the usual process of farmer -> wholesaler -> retailer, the company acts as both wholesaler and retailer, letting the farmers get a larger share of the profits. So the food isn't organic, and not completely local - but it is at least from within the same state!

SoapBoxTech said...

I usually suggest caution in dealing with Hutterite fare. Perhaps it differs significantly from colony to colony but the one I know and those I have heard of are pretty intensely industrial and energy intensive. Their operations are usually medium-scale and efficient (and they are local), yet still industrial in nature when it comes to agriculture. I'd suggest trying to get a tour of the colony before buying their fare.

Theresa said...

Thanks for the Aussie info Kiashu. Good news - it looks like I will be able to decrease my CSA commute by picking up the veggies at a drop off that will make only a 20 minute difference to my drive home, provided the drop off location is the same as last year. That will save time, fuel and emissions! :)

That is an interesting point SBT - I hadn't really thought about how industrialized Hutterite produce could really be. I just thought of the local, independent part. Thanks.