Here is what we are planning for your Beneficial CSA Share for Thursday February 23rd, 2017
Green Leaf Lettuce from Preferred Produce
Spinach from Sol y Tierra Coop
Red Russian Kale from Anthony Youth Farm
Cucumbers from Preferred Produce
Cilantro from Anthony Youth Farm
Chicos from Casados Farm
Grab your cup of coffee, tea, or later in the day beer or wine, and tuck in for some words on the national efforts on local food support!
National CSA Sign-Up Day!!
It is that time of year again, where we join the national movement of over 1353 CSAs throughout the US and Canada to promote local CSAs on a massive scale!! We spend a lot of time every week working with our local farmers and producers, but since we are so focused on local, we don’t always share the work on how local is part of a national movement!!
Our friends at Small Farm Central are key advocates that are helping to promote buying local, on a national scale. They have been working to promote local CSAs for years, providing educational, technical and marketing materials that a single small CSA could not easily manage, but for the combined support of all the nation’s CSA’s. Of their many achievements, one of the biggest efforts of late has been National CSA Signup Day, first recognized 2015, for February 28th!!
One of the coolest things we hear when a member signs up, is that they were a CSA supporter where they lived, and want to continue to support a CSA! This lets us know that no matter where you go, as a member, you will continue to support local food in your new communities! This is reflected in the work that SFC is doing, bring all our CSAs together to support each other. Some of the members on our mailing list have moved but stayed on the list, and we hope that they are supporting the CSA in their community!
A Vision for 5 Million CSA Members by 2030!
From Simon Huntley of Small Farm Central
I have been doing a lot of thinking about the future of CSA farms over the past few years. With CSA Day 2017 upon us, I wanted to take time to reflect on where we are, where we are going, and why we are doing this.
I am passionate about CSA farming because I see the special connection between farmers and eaters, but also see a path to an economically sustainable small-to-medium scale farm. I believe that economic sustainability is tied inextricably to agricultural sustainability and that CSA is an important part of that puzzle because it allows a farmer to control his or her market with a degree of certainty and margin that no other marketing channel allow.
In addition, CSA is the most direct connection that an eater can have with his or her farmer and is a connection to the land that an eater can’t get in any other way. Through CSA, we imbue food with meaning, story, and connection. In a world of intractable problems, being a CSA farmer or CSA member is an act we can take to make life better for our land, economy, and community as a whole.
The CSA Market Right Now
However, CSA only touches a tiny minority of households. I was focused on this fact through the Local Food Marketing Practice Survey that was released in December by the USDA (hat tip to Elizabeth Henderson for emailing the data to me). This data is for the United States only, but I think the lessons can be applied anywhere in the world.
They list the total sales of all 7,398 CSA farms at $226,000,000 in 2015. In a lot of ways, I look at that data and think CSA has been a huge success in 30 seasons in the United States. This is a concept that has resonated with the public without any corporate, governmental, or moneyed interests behind it.
On the other hand, let’s look at that data in terms of the overall food marketplace.
If we take the average share price data from our CSA Farming Report of $450, then we get the number of approximately 500,000 CSA shares sold in 2015.
There are 124.6 million households in the U.S., so that means approximately 0.4% of US households purchase a CSA share each year.
So, despite the huge success of the CSA concept, it is still very niche. Looking at these numbers, I can’t believe that 0.4% is the ceiling of CSA.
I think CSA farming is so important for farmers and eaters, so I am setting a goal of growing the overall CSA market by 10x, to 5 million households, by 2030.
Even with this exponential growth of CSA, we will still be serving only 1 in 25 households in the United States. That is still a small slice of the population and I believe that is possible for us to get there.
However, what got us to 500,000 CSA members, will not get us to 5 million. We need to reimagine what CSA is to appeal to a much wider demographic and we need to get better at articulating the values of CSA. Your customers and potential customers work hard for their money too, so we must appeal to their values and their interests as we plot a way forward.
While we reimagine CSA, we can’t lose sight of what has made CSA such an impactful concept. I believe that if we simply compete with the grocery stores or the Blue Aprons of the world, we lose. CSA must be about more than a simple box of food.
What will this growth of the CSA market mean for your farm? What will this growth mean for the overall local food market? How do we get there?
I ask these questions, but I don’t have the answers. I have some guesses. However, I believe that reaching this goal it is possible if we all work together on the local, regional, national, and international scale. I want to start the conversation with you because I believe that this growth is essential for a thriving local food economy and, I worry that if don’t radically grow CSA, it will become more niche and eventually wither on the vine.
I firmly believe that when we all do better, we all do better. Your success is my success.
I would love to hear from you: how do you feel about this goal? Is it reasonable? Do you have ideas on how we can get there?
I look forward to growing with you over the next 13 years!
Historic CSA Farm Charter set for USA & Canada
Written by Steven McFadden (Member of BFCSA) on February 10, 2017
I’m pleased to share this press release, just developed by a community of people who recognize the importance of community farms (CSAs), and who see the potential for enhancing our environment, improving our diets, supporting our local farmers, and cooperating for mutual benefit with our neighbors. ~ SM
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms across the United States and Canada are setting roots more deeply in the land as they unite this year under a community-developed Charter for CSAs that provides a clear definition of what CSA farms are all about.
Logo for the CSA Charter by Ruth Blackwell
With 30 years of history and development, over 7,500 healthy, sustainable community farms have been established in the US, and many thousands more in Canada. These sustainable farms are directly networked with hundreds of thousands of households in the towns and cities where they are based and provide weekly shares of fresh, healthy, locally-grown food.
Together, regional networks and independent CSAs in the USA and Canada are banding together to launch an innovative and strengthening Charter for CSAs. The Charter will be inaugurated on CSA Sign-up Day, February 24, 2017.
CSAs that endorse the Charter are making a public commitment to uphold the principles and practices delineated in the Charter. It will provide a window of transparency for member households and for farmers, helping define and clarify what CSA farms are all about.
In the words of Elizabeth Henderson, CSA farmer and author of Sharing the Harvest, “CSA is a tremendously flexible concept for consumer-farmer connections. It’s an alternative system of distribution based on community values. The economics of direct sales make this a win-win solution for farmers and farm members. The farmer gets a decent price and the member pays less, since there is no middleman.”
“For the farmer,” she added, “CSA offers the possibility of a broad support group. Those groups are composed of local people who know about the farm, who genuinely care about it’s survival, and who are willing to share the farmer’s risks and rewards.
“In reciprocity, CSA farm members have the opportunity to eat fresh, healthy food, to connect with the earth, to know and trust in the people who grow their food, to deepen their understanding of seasonal eating, to support the local economy, and to take an empowered stance of accepting responsibility for one of our most basic needs.”
Anthony Graham, a farmer for 30 years at the Temple-Wilton Community Farm in New Hampshire, said, “When we started the Temple Wilton Community Farm, we were interested in community and in the ‘culture’ of agriculture. What we were attempting to set up was a way for a community of people to support the existence of a farm through good times and bad by making pledges of financial support over the course of one year. By agreeing to support the existence of the farm our members became co-farmers.”
Your CSA Recap
Between these two amazing articles by such strong CSA advocates, we also wanted to make sure you look at the links as well. Please check out the Charter for CSAs in the USA and Canada which we will be participating in and just as importantly, the map of the participating CSAs across the nation! Zoomed out, the USA is almost complete covered by local farmers supporting their neighbors, something we hope to see grow to also be true as you look with a few miles of your home!!
Anyone on social media, please consider temporarily changing your profile picture to our “I Support My Local Farmer” ribbon!! No matter where you live, which farmer you support, all the local farmer’s in the nation need our support, and we can show it to them!
Beneficial Farms CSA is Looking for More Members
This is an excellent time for us to talk to our members, and ask them to help us reach out to your friends and neighbors! A lot of our time these last few weeks has been focused on how can we support our farmers even more this year than we have before. We are digging deep and finding ideas we will grow, but so much of our capacity to support farmers comes from you! Our CSA is the oldest in the state, cultivating relationships between farmers/producers and your families for the last 23 years, and we are not planning on slowing down or stopping the support of our local food network.
We are offering a $10 bonus for current members who refer a new member, provided they stay on for their first investment, and an additional bonus for re-newel for their support. We are also doing a bunch of fun stuff behind the scenes you will see shortly, our new website being a soon coming component.
There are two main components to the CSA model, the farmers and the community support! We want to continue to grow what we can do for our farmers, and with that, we need the community to grow and continue to support us!
This organization isn’t run by some corporate out of state company, it is built on your support and want for local food, that directly employs farmers, ranchers and producers through the state, we just help bring it together!
CSA Recipes Needed:
We are working on a cookbook for our CSA Members, and anyone getting into the world of local foods and minimal waste cooking. We are partnering with a fabulous writer who created an amazing CSA cookbook baseline that we are now working on making our own. Any personal recipes you want to share that we can include in this book, please send a copy! We want to publish an amazing cookbook that not only illustrates the necessity of low waste cooking with “weird” CSA foods, but also has a real tie to the NM members who have made their dinners based on what the land provides.
We love recycling!
We rely on members returning a reusable bag to their pick-up site every week when they pick up their shares! We also reuse egg cartons if they are clean.
Members who are new to the CSA, or have not replenished their Farmigo account before, please read this!
Member accounts are not set up to stop service once your account hits $0. Most member accounts are set up on an automatic billing system, or those that don’t have this set up, pay in some regular instilment. Member accounts will receive an email notice if their account is falling below $50, regardless of if their payment is automatic or not.
Members wishing to stop their share when their balance hits zero, NEED to email us to suspend their shares! We don’t make a habit of regulating balances week to week, and don’t mind letting a family bounce a week’s worth of food to keep them feed, so we don’t stop shares when your balance hits zeros unless we know your leaving the CSA. To have our flexible system, where a family can wait a week to reinvest in a share, we need members to let us know when they are closing our accounts, or taking a vacation. Otherwise, we spend even more money in paying for unclaimed shares, which can be donated by the time a member lets us know they are canceling some times.
Member, please email you holds and Substitutions in a separate email to us, so it is not lost in a hidden chain!!
CSA Phone: 505-470-1969
*We are getting better at making changes to member’s share when their dietary preferences that you let us know about. If you see something in the share that you can’t have, or absolutely hate, send us an email and we can find a substitute, but remember that half the fun of the CSA is trying something new.
News and specials on the marketplace:
We are starting to get into our Winter crops, which will make having an accurate marketplace and regular share list more reliable. Occasionally, a product comes in that isn’t up to our standards for distribution, or is shorted by the farm, so contact us via email for credits/issues.
Spaghetti Squash: On the marketplace
Hubbard Squash: On the marketplace
Carrots: On the marketplace
Garlic: On the marketplace
Sprouts: Sunflower and Buckwheat on the marketplace
Cucumbers: On the Marketplace
Spinach: On the Marketplace
Green Lettuce: On the Marketplace
Kale: On the Marketplace
Salad Mix: On the Marketplace
Grape and Vine Ripe Tomatoes: On the Marketplace
What are Chicos?
For those immersed in NM cuisine, you may be familiar with chicos, as well as the other traditional crops like chili pods, posole and atole. Chicos are one of the golden foods traditionally grown in NM, which are prized and valued by those who have tried them. Chicos are made by taking sweet corn, roasting it over flames, then drying the cob to produce dried chicos kernels. Upon re-hydrating these kernels in your recipe, you bring back an unforgettable flavor of roasted sweet corn. As our friends at Edible found “They’re actually listed on the U.S. Ark of Taste, a catalog of outstandingly delicious traditional foods in danger of extinction.”
New Mexico has a wealth of hidden food culture and foods not found anywhere else in the world! While we have a lot of more recognizable foods in our CSA, we want to ensure that our members experience these hidden treasures and come to cherish them.
We also wanted to take a moment to recognize the importance of our pueblo farmers, and their crops. We work with Peter Casado of Okey Owingeh Pueblo, just North of Espanola. They practice pesticide free farming, and seed saving, as many of their crops are traditional native grown foods. With the traditional pueblo grown crops, they predated any Org practices, passing down traditions of holistic growing habits through the generations. The time I have spent with them has shown me that in such a rich agricultural based society in which they learned how to grow certain foods and combat the elements hundreds of years before pesticides were invented, and those practices are passed through tradition and various stories or metaphors. Also, the very isolated nature of the pueblos has insulated many of their crops, practices and field from western influence. Unlike a corn grower in Nebraska, that decides to plant non-gmo corn, but their neighbor does and then their fields cross pollinate and his crop becomes GMO, pueblo farmers have a natural and cultural buffer against many of the things we are now realizing are harmful to our health.
I guess we should have been talking to the original stewards of the lands before we tried to mess with it, we are now learning a thing or two.
- 2 cups chicos
- 10 cups cold water
- 2 T. oil
- 1/2 pound pork, cut in ½ inch cubes
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 t. salt
- 1/2 t. dried oregano
- 4-5 dried green or red chiles, crumbled
- Soak chicos in cold water overnight, then cook (with the water) in a crockpot all day on low. If you prefer, you can just simmer them on the stove for about 3 hours after soaking.
- Heat the oil on medium flame, and sear the pork.
- Add the onion and garlic, and cook until translucent.
- Add the salt, oregano, chiles, and the chicos with all their water. Cook 20 minutes (or longer, as desired) to blend the flavors and rehydrate the chiles.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1 handful of spinach
- 1/2 cucumber
- 1 apple
- 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 inch piece of ginger root
Start by thoroughly washing your spinach to remove any dirt or grit that could be still on the leaves. Then carefully wash your cucumber, apple and lemon.
Cut your cucumber and apple into smaller chunks so as to make your juicer happy. Then cut your lemon in half and remove the rind but leave on as much of the white as you can. Then cut a 1/2 inch piece of ginger root and remove the outer skin of that.
I started by putting my ginger and lemon in the juicer followed by the cucumber chunks. By putting the ginger in first, you are getting as much of that ginger juice pushed through as possible. Then I added in the handful of spinach and followed that with the remaining apple. I followed the spinach with the apple in order to help the juicer process it because spinach can be hard on your juicer.
Once everything has been processed and juiced, you’ll be left with one cup of this delicious apple cucumber spinach juice to enjoy!
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- black pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cucumbers, very finely sliced (see photos)
- 4 tablespoons minced cilantro, to taste
- Dice the jalapeno and garlic and add to a medium-sized bowl.
- Add 3 tablespoons of fresh lime juice, crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper. Use a whisk to incorporate the 3 tablespoons olive oil. Set aside.
- Finely slice the cucumbers. Use a mandolin if you have it, but a very sharp knife will do the trick. (See photos below.) Add the cucumbers to the dressing and stir together.
- Finely mince the cilantro and add it to the bowl. Stir to combine. You can either let it sit in the fridge to marinate for a couple hours, or serve immediately.
For the salad:
- One large head of green leaf lettuce, rinsed and torn into bite-size pieces
- Half a large cantaloupe, divided into wedges and sliced in 1/4-inch pieces
For the dressing, whir up in a blender:
- One ripe avocado
- Juice of two limes
- 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
- splash of olive oil
- water for thinning, as needed.
Toss with salad just before serving. Excellent as an accompaniment to spicy rice and beans.
From the Mesa Top: Feb 23, 2017
Climatology 2017: A warm and dry week, then windy, then a cold day or two, and back again. The merry go round of transition from winter to spring.
From the Wild: A pair of ducks was spotted on the reservoir! It is time to keep an eye out for migrating birds. We finished a new fence that is close to the edge of the reservoir and now we hope to begin more habitat improvements with the idea on mind that more migratory birds will hatch their clutch of eggs and stay through the summer. Brush piles and plantings.
There is a natural water hole that has developed a coyote willow thicket. It would work to take cuttings from there and dig them in around the edge of the reservoir, right at the high water line.
Cow stories: Out on the pastures, fences are being repaired. Our best looking pasture for spring is the northern NM State lease. We have one section of fence to repair on that lease. Also a ¼ mile section to build that will also connect to another one of our pastures.
Meanwhile, more signs of spring: In favored spots that are damp and south facing, green grass is appearing.
The cows are lazily and happily enjoying the best of worlds: Sun and warmth, hay a plenty, and no flies!
Bow, one of two remaining cows from the very beginning of the Ayrshire project, born in summer 2008, will calf any day now.
There are other momma starting to fill out as well.
Spring calfing should be ramping up.
Beneficial birds: The hens have rebounded from winter to an excellent level of egg production. With one crop of pullets already moved to the main coop, we are almost ready to start one more batch.
Thank you for your support of our local farms and farm families,
The Warshawer/Swendson/Agard Family
Beneficial Farm CSA