An element commonly found in ecovillages and other small communities like Ploughshares is Community Shared Agriculture. Being an interdependent business that makes use of land, it is a simple solution to helping establish a forming rural community. It can also supplement existing communities. Not only does a farm help afford greater food security, it can provide jobs for residents as the produce is often sold at farmer’s markets and, in some cases, local grocery stores. One of the challenges forming ecovillages face, noted in Creating a Life Together by Diana Leafe Christian, is the vexing issue of income for the communities. Farms are a proven method of income generation. Community Shared Agriculture connects the farmers straight to you, the consumer. By buying CSA, you are supporting not only the farmer, but the family and community they are a part of.
CSA farms are usually supported by neighboring municipalities. Where large scale, industrial farming often supports a nations GDP, with CSA, people who purchase CSA shares support the local farmer and the local economy. An additional benefit to CSA is that the farms will often post their growing practices on their website so you know if the produce is grown organically or close to organic. Organic inspectors visit farms to certify their land and ensure standards are met.
For children, Manitoba also has a Growing Up Organic program that connects CSAs to daycares and schools. Some CSA farms also make use of permaculture in their farming. Permaculture can influence what grows with what (interspecies planting), how the gardens are formed, (berms, plateaus and more for control of water run off) and many other aspects. Permaculture implementation can help increase climate resilience through careful consideration of the construction of gardens and fields. It can help put the growing capabilities and capacities into the hands of the farmer.
One of the most radical things people today can do is to buy shares in CSAs. They support food security, climate resilience and secure jobs. They can help inform the purchaser as to the provenance of their food, helping the purchaser make better decisions based on individual needs. CSAs by nature are interdependent, and bring people closer to the food they eat. And they are great start-ups for forming ecovillages.
For more information about CSA farms, visit www.csamanitoba.com.