Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Community Supported Agriculture continues expansion in Boulder County

When it comes to farming, teikei is the Japanese word for what a growing number of locals are consuming.

It means food with a farmer's face on it, according to Kayann Short, who with her husband, John Martin, owns Stonebridge Farm near Lyons, the first farm in the county to offer shares of its produce as a CSA or farm relying on Community Supported Agriculture. That was in 1992, less than a decade after the idea migrated to the United States from parallel movements in Japan and Germany.

Today, in Boulder County there's more food with a farmer's face on it than ever before. A preliminary list compiled by the Camera finds nearly 30 farms offering not only produce, but also meat and fruit. That's not even counting the face time locals get with farmers at farmers' markets and farmstands.

Stonebridge will begin its 22nd season this year, and Short and Martin have already planted leeks and onions in the greenhouse with brassicas next on the agenda.

"We grow for 90 shares, about 250 people. That's the size we want to be on this piece of land," Short says, adding that she and Martin are happy to see the growth of local CSAs.

She worries, however, that CSAs are often presented as just another consumer choice, not that there's a thing wrong with the delight customers take in fresh, vibrant produce. Short just wants people to remember that the mission of a CSA is to support local agriculture by giving farmers a predictable income stream, making it possible to keep agricultural land safe from development.

"It's helping to support farmers, going back to the teikei idea" she says. "Farming is one of the riskiest businesses around, the least predictable and the least controllable."

And those risks are only increasing.

"As the climate changes and fuel becomes more and more expensive, farmland is disappearing to development," Short adds.

Expanding the CSA model

It's not only farmers who operate CSAs in Boulder County nowadays. Coffee and wine are also available as shares, generally offered at an existing produce CSA. Conscious Coffees, for example, offers shares at some local farms. The micro-roaster sources its coffee through a member-owned green coffee importing group, putting a face on coffee growing.

Settembre Cellars, a local maker of fine wines, sells its Colorado wines at 63rd Street Farm and offers wines by the glass at a discount to members on Fridays, when the farm offers pizza when CSA members pick up their shares. Several wine shares are available, ranging from a bottle a week to a bottle a month. The prices work out to roughly $25 a bottle, a discount since Settembre wines run from $25 to $37.

Tracy Eliasson, who owns the garage winery with her husband, Blake, says the wines themselves aren't seasonal -- grape harvest is a limited time each year -- but the winery posts pairing ideas on its blog according to what vegetables are being offered at the 63rd Street CSA.

They got the idea of offering wine shares after being longtime CSA customers receiving seasonal produce. The winery works with vineyards on the Western Slope and also offers CSA members a bottle of its uber-local 80304 wine, made from grapes grown in the couple's backyard on Grape Street in Boulder.

Eliasson describes the CSA customers as "a special group of people interested in local food."

As CSAs continue to expand, that number keeps growing.
Original Article Here

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