New Mexican Article on CSAs

Did you see the New Mexican article about local CSAs last Tuesday?  Steve and his chickens are in the photograph to accompany the article.  They even put a chicken in their masthead to advertise the article.  Here it is in case you missed it.

Community Supported Agriculture partnership brings food to your table, stability to farmer
Miranda Merklein | For The New Mexican
Posted: Tuesday, January 25, 2011 – 1/26/11

Community Supported Agriculture is an opportunity for the community to participate with local farms in New Mexico and adopt a healthier lifestyle.

How it works: Participants pay a certain amount before the growing season, and when the crops are harvested, CSA members are guaranteed weekly or monthly allowances of farm-fresh products — produce, dairy, meats and eggs, and more — which are either at the farm for pickup or delivered to locations like the Santa Fe Farmers Market.

CSAs are systems that connect consumers with local food producers to protect the livelihood of the farm and to strengthen the relationship between the farm and the community of consumers it serves. CSA “shareholders,” or members, pay for a share of the farm, which in turn helps pay for production costs for the operation of the farm during that particular season. Some members may also volunteer at the farm in order to work closely with the farmers and other CSA shareholders.

The CSA system helps balance the financial responsibility of farming by distributing the work among many people instead of placing all risk on the farm. Membership can cost from $25 to $1,225, depending on the farm and the consumer’s chosen allotment of goods. Because farms conduct their own CSA programs — there is no universal program in place — people are free to form agreements with the farms of their choice. Some farms have a small membership ratio; other have 600 or more members. That number varies from season to season, depending largely on the size of the farm.

According to the New Mexico Farmers Market Association, there are 18 farms with official CSA programs in place. But, the actual list is probably much larger because of the number and variety of farms in New Mexico with less-publicized CSAs. The best way to find out about CSAs is to contact your favorite farm directly, whether a local farmers market, by telephone or via the farm’s website.

“CSAs are more of a concept,” says Denise Miller, director of New Mexico Farmers Market Association. “The concept of CSAs is to support local agriculture, and CSAs come and go, just like any business. CSA programs vary between every farm.”

When choosing which CSA to join, it is important to get to know the farm with which you are working. This includes understanding where the farm grows its produce, and how often goods are distributed and in what quantity.

Beneficial Farms in Santa Fe and Albuquerque operates year-round and distributes produce grown by 40 farms throughout the state and beyond. Farm shares cost $25 per week. In addition to delicious produce, extra egg, cheese, and ground beef shares are available for an added fee. It costs $150 to join, and you can load up to $1,225 in your Farm Account.

Beneficial Farms also has an online marketplace where members can order local honey, peanut butter, jam, artisan cheese and seasonal fruit. A weekly share in January could include a 7-ounce salad mix, one bunch of collard greens, two pounds of fingerling potatoes, 1.5 pounds of carrots, one pound of quinoa, 1.5 pounds of Winesap apples, two Meyer lemons and two pomegranates. Distribution locations are in Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Eldorado, among others.

Los Poblanos Organics of Albuquerque is another farm that operates year-round, with two pickup locations in Santa Fe as well as many others throughout the state. Much of its organic produce is grown in New Mexico and regional organic farms in Colorado, Texas, Arizona and California. There is no membership fee, and a local Harvest Box consisting of 10 to 12 veggies and fruits costs $28. A weekly fruit box is only $10. There are also many á la carte items to add to an order, including milk, eggs, cheese, bread, meat, beans, rice, pasta and flour. Los Poblanos also has a home-delivery option, which requires an $18 deposit for a cooler. There’s no delivery fee for orders of more than $38.

Old Windmill Dairy in Moriarty, also year-round, provides fine cheeses in incremental stages delivered to your local farmers market. For $100, you receive $120 worth of goods.

Pollo Real provides chicken, duck, guinea fowl, heritage turkeys, eggs and locally grown crops. Membership costs $400, with all money going to your choice of purchases. You can sign up by visiting Tom or Tracey at the Santa Fe Farmers Market.

Harmony Farm in Abiquiú operates June through November and distributes CSA shares at the Santa Fe Farmers Market.

The above are just a few of the CSAs from which people can choose. The good news is that it is possible to get almost every household food staple fresh from a local or organic farm that cares just as much about the quality of its produce and goods as the environmentally conscious consumer does. To eat 100 percent local, people may choose to belong to more than one CSA, in addition to shopping regularly at the Santa Fe Farmers Market. The choice is up to the consumer. There has never been a better opportunity to eat — and grow — local, smart and fresh.

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