"Buy the Farm" for Christmas
Have you been shopping for the same people every year and finally reached the end of your potential gift ideas? Are you tired of the same materialistic banter being blared over the radio and television day and night, trying to convince you that buying that Xbox or Onion Slapper available now for only $19.95 plus shipping and handling will make all of your wildest dreams come true?
Then how about trying something different this year? Many people long for a simpler way of living yet find it difficult in their busy lives to work on downsizing or simplifying the way they live. One consequence of living full throttle is that our diet has become super-saturated with easy-to-find fast food items that are not only unhealthy, but which remove us from where our food actually comes from, and how it is produced.
So how about a healthy holiday gift, one that brings us a piece of a simpler life? Perhaps consider buying the ones you love a little piece of a farm—believe it or not, you really can!
As a way to market their products, many local farms offer for sale “shares” of their projected produce at the beginning of each growing season. CSA's, or Community Supported Agriculture, are fairly inexpensive, and are usually offered during a farmer's preseason, perhaps late winter through early spring, although shares may become available throughout the growing season.
CSA’s are a vital part of small farm operations. With the support of community members buying into the farming enterprise each season, farmers garner much needed funding upfront which pays for seed, fertilizer, soil amendments, farm equipment and other miscellaneous expenses. In return, shareowners receive a weekly portion of the harvest as it comes in. The produce provided is of the highest quality, straight off the farm, and is much higher in nutritional value and taste than anything you could buy from a local grocery chain.
Not only does this build a true sense of community by having shareowners and farmers working together to bring produce to harvest, shareowners know where their food comes from, how it’s grown, and what management practices are employed. No middleman or broker is involved. The farmer is also guaranteed an outlet for the harvest, and the ability to build close relationships with CSA members. In a CSA, everyone shares in the risks and benefits of the venture and in the end, all are rewarded with the literal fruits of their labors.
If you are interested in participating in a local CSA or buying a share as a gift for someone else, visit http://www.localharvest.org/csa. Simply type in your ZIP code in the search field to find local farms in your area that are offering shares. This is the time farmers need you to invest, as planting season begins in January, so don’t wait. What a great gift this would be for someone you love and care for! And if you’ve already bought the Onion Slapper, at least now you’ll have a use for it.