How to Support Local Farms


In twenty years, almost all of the food you eat will be produced locally.

The reasons for this are simple and inexorable.

People want the freshness, quality, and meaning they get from buying local food from people they know.   It’s also great for the farmer, since it enables them to directly interact with customers again.

One of the ways this service is being provided is Community Supported Agriculture, or a CSA.

A CSA is essentially a subscription to a farm’s output, usually delivered weekly.   Here’s what a good sized box looks like (via dirtandveggies):


The weekly delivery system works nicely to the benefit of both the resilient customer and the farmer. The customer gets freshly picked, locally procured, high quality produce, that is grown in a way that they approve of (this is going to become very, very important when the GMO bubble pops).

The farmer benefits from a predictable income stream. Income that is paid upfront (instead of being reliant of volatile commodity markets and government subsidies) by willing customers.

To cement the bond, CSA farmers are increasingly holding harvest festivals and other programs for their subscribers to provide them with a deeper connection to the farm.

If you don’t already subscribe to a CSA, do so.   In addition to the factors cited above, it’s a nice compliment to the food you grow in your garden and a beneficial addition to your community’s resilience.   How so?  The more edible food (in contrast to endless acres of corn and soybeans) grown locally, the better.  It’s important to remember that resilience is a community effort, and the more producers there are the better. You don’t have to produce everything yourself.

For help finding a CSA, here’s a resource called Local Harvest (as you can see, CSAs are already everywhere and growing).



I’ll have much more on the future of CSA soon.

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  • different clue

    I think maybe a “kitchen space” in the spirit of a “maker space” might be a good thing. A sort-of large or semi-huge community kitchen facility up to all relevant commercial codes in which mini-micro food-making entrepreneurs can rent kitchen time to make batches of legal-to-sell food-product . . . perhaps under the eye and guidance of a hired full-time kitchen and standards maintainer/helper/watcher.

    • different clue

      And reading further downthread I see the comment about on-farm state licensed kitchen. So perhaps the “neighborhood foodmaker space” could/should be a state-licensed kitchen.

    • John Robb

      J, You are entirely correct!! JR

  • Marcus Wynne

    Resilient Nomad checking in…here’s a link to a post I wrote about how one grower who, in addition to his CSA, circumvented bureaucracy to make sure product got to his loyal customers:

    And here’s the reason why it’s good to have several sources of local food: your own as well as a CSA as well as some “grey market” folks:

    Good stuff, John. Check your e-mail for a check-in from me. Talk soon!

    cheers, m

  • Lex

    State licensed kitchens change everything. My best friend’s farm is a freezer repair away from licensing the kitchen. As a diversified farm, this will be huge in allowing parting of chickens for sale at the co-op and farmer’s market. At the field produce end, it allows the farmer to do value adding production. For example, instead of basically giving tomatoes away towards the end of the season when there’s a supply glut, they can be turned into salsa, sauces, etc.

    I’m hoping it happens soon, because I make a fantastic kimchi that I could easily sell but A. don’t have the room at home to produce more than ~20lbs at a time and B. can’t sell it legally anyhow.

    As for CSAs, I’ve been a member but don’t keep one up anymore. I would for meat (but I pay for meat by helping in the slaughter work). I think they’re excellent for a lot of people and farmers; I’m just able to produce enough myself that a CSA is too much. Also, I generally don’t pay for produce from the farm either.

    • John Robb


      Exactly right. A “kitchenspace” can change the economics of farming for the better….


  • Lex

    The farm in question fully plans to cheaply rent (and giving the nature of these people, cheaply probably means “share what you make”) the kitchen space to people. For example, canning all your tomatoes in an afternoon is a lot easier in a commercial kitchen with deep three-sinks and 12 burner gas range.

    As it stands, we regularly will do the dirty work of chicken production for people on slaughter days. You bring ’em and pay by the bird; we give you back vacuum sealed poultry for the freezer. Sometimes people help do their own, and if they help a whole day, they obviously don’t pay anything for inclusion. It’s a pretty good system if people would not bring in their old laying hens … that’s just disgusting work to do for someone else.

  • Marcus Wynne

    Here’s a list of kitchens available in Champaign-Urbana; there’s also a “community kitchen” project underway to help out vendors at the local Farmer’s Market

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