I am still working on turning our home into a space for growing our own crops, extending hospitality to others, and structured around prayer: something like a Catholic Worker Farm meeting a Benedictine monastery. In order to make this vision of Casa de San Ysidro y Santa Maria come to life, I have been delving deeper into Permaculture, sustainable agriculture, and the like. As mentioned previously, I have been taking two classes from CCCC concerning sustainable agriculture. One of the courses is comparative of small farms in our area (check out photos from the visits); for the past two and half months I have been traipsing all over Orange and Chatham counties to visit farmers, learn from their experience, and get our hands dirty doing some work.
At our last farm visit, at Timberwood Organics, I signed up for a CSA share. A CSA allows the consumer to pay upfront for the cost of produce and receive one box of produce from the farm each week. This allows farmers to offset one of the major difficulties they face, namely the initial investment needs in order to produce their crop. It also generates a sense of responsibility on the part of the consumer, connects us to the grower and the land, and encourages us to develop a habit of preparing and eating local food which is in season. Timberwood Organics delivers all 250 of their boxes to homes which, because they have developed an efficient route, works out to less than 2 miles of driving per customer. Compare that to the 1000s of miles traversed by most grocery store produce (which also is of questionable safety given the failure of adequate import inspections) and the carbon footprint that buying local, especially if it is delivered, is dramatically smaller than buying from your supermarket. The documentary The Future of Food provides an excellent summary of sustainable agriculture as an alternative to current conventional agribusiness models and its promise for environmental, social, and nutritional benefits. In addition to keeping you posted on the progress of our sustainable farm project and the experience of our CSA, you can find a CSA near year through LocalHarvest.