Please download our 2012 West Harlem CSA Brochure for an overview of our CSA!
What is a CSA?
CSA stands for community supported agriculture. It is a way to support a local farmer by helping the farmer with the costs at the beginning of the agricultural season (like purchasing seeds) without the need for high-cost loans. It also gives the farmer a secure source of income in case of a bad year. A CSA member becomes a shareholder in the risk and benefits of farming. CSA helps ensure the viability of local agricultural production. Local agriculture is better for the environment, the regional economy, and provides you with fresher, more nutritious produce!
CSAs are a new and quickly growing business model for farmers and consumers. It is like a community-based buying club. CSAs started in Japan in the 1960’s where they are called tekei, roughly meaning “food with the farmer’s face on it.” The model was brought to the U.S. by a farmer studying “food guilds” in Switzerland in the 1980’s. According to localharvest.org, there are now about 3,000 CSAs in the U.S. Just Food, a New York City non-profit, estimates there are just over 100 CSAs in NYC alone.
By supporting this farmer, you will get the freshest, most nutritious vegetables you can get without growing them yourself. The vegetables are usually picked the day before a distribution, sometimes even the day of! You will receive vegetables that are in season and at the peak of their flavor. You will also start a relationship with the person growing your food, which means that the farmer and the consumer connect on more than just a business transaction level.
Is a CSA Right for me!
A CSA doesn’t work for everyone. There are a few factors to account for before joining:
• The cost of the CSA We try to make the CSA accessible to people from all income levels by partnering with the New York City Coalition Against Hunger and offering a variety of different payment plans and options.
• Timing and time commitment The pick-up day and time must work for you or someone in your household. Included in this time commitment is the volunteer requirement. The CSA is dependent on members volunteering their time towards CSA operations.
• The amount of vegetables This depends on the amount of vegetables you eat and are ready to prepare. Most CSA members report that they increased the number of vegetables they would normally eat, which is a great thing! CSA organizers write a newsletter every week, which will include ways of preserving and preparing your share, to make sure you get the most out of your CSA share. Your fellow members may have advice about how to prepare different vegetables also; just ask at pick-up!
How do I participate in CSA?
First, you have to become a member. That means filling out a membership agreement and sending it with your payment to NYCCAH. Membership means that you will come to the pick up each week for 22 weeks, and fulfill your volunteer requirements. This is a requirement for all of our members. Remember, the CSA can only function if it is a combined effort of all the members!
When does distribution happen?
Distribution begins in June and will run for a 22-week season. It will occur every Tuesday from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM.
Who is the farmer?
Our primary farm partner is Windflower Farm. Windflower Farm is a small family farm located in Taconic Hill country, between the Hudson River and the Vermont border. Ted and Jan Blomgren have been growing organic vegetables and cut flowers for shareholders in New York City for over ten years. Ted brings to Windflower Farm his training in horticulture and experience as an educator. Formerly an adviser to Cornell Corporation Extension, he’s now a full-time farmer. Jan brings to the farm experience as an illustrator and training in botany and she is a superior floral designer.
Is it organic?
Yes! As organic growers, Ted and Jan use no pesticides or synthetic fertilizers of any kind. To enrich their soils, they use cover crops, crop rotations, and compost. They are committed to careful land stewardship, ecological pest management, and a healthy environment for the people who work with them. In this way, they hope to leave their farm in good condition for future generations.
When and where is the distribution?
Full shares are picked up every Tuesdays 5:30-7:30pm.
Half shares are picked up every other Tuesday 5:30-7:30pm.
Broadway Community Inc. at the Broadway Presbyterian Church
on 601 West 114th St. (corner of Broadway).
It is serviced by the #1 train to 116th St.
What if I cannot make it to distribution?
You are required to pick up your share at every designated distribution time. If you cannot make it, please find a family member or friend or a fellow CSA member to pick up your share. Any food that is not picked up will be donated to the Hebron SDA Church food pantry and soup kitchen. You will not be refunded or compensated for any missed share and if you are a half share member who picks up every other week, you cannot pick up on a week that you are not scheduled to. We ask that you please respect these conditions.
What is the time commitment?
This is a member-run volunteer organization, so members are required to volunteer 4 hours per share over the course of the season. This can be done by volunteering at distribution, helping with events or the newsletter, or working at the Broadway Community Inc. soup kitchen. Volunteer opportunities are very diverse, so be sure to communicate with other members!
What should I bring with me?
Bags! You are required to bring your own bags, so consider bringing small ones to separate vegetables and greens. You may also want to bring a tote bag or rolling cart to carry your share home.
What role does Hunger Free America have in the CSA?
Although the West Harlem CSA is a community-organized effort, we are able to provide low-cost shares for members through the Farm Fresh Initiative, a program run by Hunger Free America.
The Coalition’s original mission was to “coordinate the activities of the emergency food providers in the city so that issues can be identified, prioritized and addressed effectively.” Though its aims have expanded and evolved over the last two decades – for example, it has strengthened advocacy and legislative efforts and now provides national service participants to emergency food providers – food access for all New Yorkers has always remained the Coalition’s animating goal.
The Farm Fresh Initiative is a city-wide program model that addresses this question by providing families with choices while connecting small local farms to low and middle income New Yorkers in traditionally under-served communities.
The centerpiece of this citywide program is a unique mixed income Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model that makes healthy, organic, fresh vegetables accessible to community members of all income levels by offering a variety of personalized payment options, including the ability to purchase vegetable shares using SNAP (Food Stamps) benefits.
Hunger Free America’s involvement in the West Harlem CSA is to support the mixed-income and community building aspects of the CSA, provide funding for the subsidized share prices, staffing support, and an AmeriCorps volunteer who assist in coordinating the CSA.
If you are able to, please consider donating to Hunger Free America to keep programs like ours running by clicking here.