CSA Going Strong in Neighborhood

August 1, 2014
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Recently the newly formed Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) program in East Boston is going strong at the neighborhood’s WIC office on Liverpool Street.

The CSA program is a collaboration between East Boston Neighborhood Health Center’s (EBNHC) Let’s Get Movin’ program and Project Bread (PB).

EBNHC’s Katie Tong and Project Bread’s Katherine Panayotov said that starting at just $15 per week, residents can sign up for the CSA program that began on June 11. After signing up, residents can pick up their fresh fruits and vegetables each Wednesday from 1:30 to 6 p.m. at the Eastie WIC site at 120 Liverpool St. To sign up residents can contact Tong at 617-568-4783 or tongk@ebnhc.org.

“Each order has enough vegetables to fill one or two grocery bags,” said Tong.

Residents can order more per week for additional costs and the site will accept checks, cash, credit cards and EBT/SNAP/Food Stamps.

At the recent event Chef Guy Koppe, from Project Bread, presented a healthy cooking demonstration to showcase some of the fun and creative recipes people can try with the produce they picked up that day.

Once a week, Farmer Dave from Dracut delivers multiple boxes of fresh vegetables for CSA shareholders to pick up, where low income people can also partake at a subsidized rate.

“This innovative program helps people struggling with food insecurity access fresh, healthy, local food and the cooking demonstration gives them an interesting, extra bit of nutritional education that offers some more creative ideas about how to use the produce they’re getting that particular week,” said PB’s Jacqueline Martinez.

CSA’s are an alternative, locally based economic model of agriculture and food distribution. A CSA also refers to a particular network or association of individuals who have pledged to support one or more local farms, with growers and consumers sharing the risks and benefits of food production.

CSA members or subscribers pay at the onset of the growing season for a share of the anticipated harvest. Once harvesting begins, they receive weekly shares of vegetables and fruit, in a vegetable box scheme.

CSAs generally focus on the production of high quality foods for a local community, often using organic or biodynamic farming methods, and a shared risk membership–marketing structure. This kind of farming operates with a much greater degree of involvement of consumers and other stakeholders than usual — resulting in a stronger consumer-producer relationship.

According to studies, CSAs benefit the community in which they are established. A large majority of CSAs organize social or educational community events. Events include potlucks, farm tours, and events for children of shareholders, and educational opportunities for the community and local schools. CSAs often donate unclaimed shares, organize donations from shareholders, donate a portion of their harvest to food banks, and have scholarships. Many CSAs also offer work-trade programs for low-income members of the community.

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