Sunday, January 29, 2012

Community Supported Agriculture

There are folks out there that get great organic home-grown vegetables without having a garden, and fresh, free-range eggs and meat straight from the farm without making a trek to Whole Foods or Fresh Market.

These folks are "buying into" a new concept called Community Supported Agriculture or CSA farms. Each farm's operations are supported by the consumers who "buy" a share in the farm and for that share they receive fresh products, straight from the field or barn, on an ongoing, weekly basis, as long as the shares last. Incidentally, most CSAs have spring sign ups and they have only a set number of shares.

Serenbe was the first local farm I know of that started this program and it is still up and running and doing well, by all accounts. Serenbe is not in our county, but just over our northern border in Fulton county. We have two local farms that are CSAs. One, Country Gardens Farms and the other, 180 Degree Farms. Both of these farms are within a short distance of each other in the eastern part of the county.

I can't say I know too much about 180 Degrees other than I have looked at their website and know a couple of the people on their board. They have an interesting story and I would love to visit their farm to see their practices.

Country Gardens Farms is a multi-generational, family-owned business that used to be a garden center but they have turned their growing expertise into a CSA venture because they think it is the wave of the future -- locally-grown, organic vegetables, meat, milk, eggs and farm products.

I must admit that I was inspired last spring when I toured their gardens. I was there for an organic farming class taught by owner, Mike Cunningham and at that point they had started their CSA but were just shutting down the gardening center. I must say their operations are very impressive. They have beautiful fields with great-looking vegetables and I have changed the way I look at organic gardening because of that visit and the class I took.

Each week I receive a newsletter from Country Gardens Farms letting me know what fresh farm products they have for sale, and though I don't have a share, I look with great curiosity at their products. If you own a CSA share, you get the cream of the crop, then they fill online orders and whatever is leftover is trucked to local farmer's markets in the Atlanta metro area.

That is about it. I think it is a growing business and if you like organic and free-range foods but don't want to get your hands dirty, you may want to look into a CSA. It is expensive, but so are organic foods in the grocery store.

If you don't live in our area, but are interested in buying a share of a CSA farm, look online. They are located in every state and it may just be the wave of the future.

I won't provide links, but you can google the names and find the local farms. You may also want to look on Facebook for a CSA. I plan to grow my own vegetables, but if I didn't, I would think a share of a farm could be a great way to get local, seasonal products without getting your hands dirty.


  1. I am fascinated by the whole CSA movement and can certainly see why so many people are flocking to them!

  2. Love your column today, Deberah - I am a big fan of Serenbe. What a delightful community. I feel refreshed whenever I go over there. My son Nick works part-time at the Blue Eyed Daisy - what a great Cafe! When Nick first started working there, he didn't have his driver's license yet, so I would drive him over and drop him off. It was often very early in the morning and 'Serenbe' was just starting to wake up...we would see the ducks splashing in the lake, the horses playing in the fields and all the other farm animals 'waking up.'

    How fortunate we are to live so close to Serenbe and get to see 'up close' how great a 'green' community can be.