By Robin Chanin, Executive Director of Global Growers Network
Farming is a hot topic lately. There are so many perspectives on it, but there’s one thing that just about everyone agrees on: farming is hard work. It’s not just the sheer physical labor that’s hard, though it certainly is. The economics are hard work, too. Farming is a production business, and the product is fickle and perishable. Farming (particularly soil-based sustainable farming) is about the delicate balance between working with nature while also exerting as much control as you possibly can.
Your customers can be a much harder thing to control, particularly if your skillset had been honed to attend to your land and animals, rather than also becoming an capable marketer, salesperson, accountant, and business development guru.That’s where the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model comes into play, certainly not as a panacea, but as a strategy to help meet new customers, stabilize income, and regain just a bit more control.
Community supported agriculture is more than a shopping relationship – a give and take of produce for cash. Under the CSA model, the people invest in “shares” of the farm by paying in advance for the produce that they will receive, providing farmers with the capital they need. In exchange, CSA shareholders receive weekly shares of the produce that is harvested (their return on investment), and farmers work hard to provide a diversified, balanced selection of produce that’s in season.
CSA shareholders also share the risk that farmers take in planting, tending and harvesting their crops, and understand that, unlike the produce section of a grocery store, the harvest reflects both the skills of the farmer and the realities of the local climate and growing seasons.
At Global Growers, the “community” in CSA is particularly important – because you are partnering with a community of farmers who are building new lives for themselves, and new professions, in metro Atlanta. Our CSA program is easily the best way to support the incredible network of farmers we work with and receive a weekly delivery of fresh, local, and organically-grown fruits and vegetables.
Global Growers Network is a non-profit organization that connects underserved Georgians, primarily legal refugees, to local opportunities in sustainable agriculture. We manage 20-acres of land and growing space in DeKalb County, where we work with experienced farmers to adapt their existing skills to be productive food producers.
As refugees, many of the Global Growers farmers are war survivors who have been invited to build new lives in Georgia, and are supporting their family by drawing on generations of farming expertise. Others may have been born in the U.S., and are now pursuing local farming as a way of rebuilding our local food economy. Altogether, the farmers at Global Growers are growing great things – and they rely on our CSA shareholders to help make it all happen!