Growing Community Supported Agriculture: Resiliency and Interdependencies
Melissa Terry lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas on a 9 acre solar powered, natural hay farm with her family. Like most farmers, she and her husband, Flint Richter, have off-farm jobs. Melissa is a graduate student studying food policy at the University of Arkansas, an intern with the US EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge, and a garden/nutrition club coordinator at her two daughters’ public elementary school. Melissa is part of the Lexicon team as a Pop-Up Show Curator. Read her thoughts on a CSA below:
Our urban farm is actively engaged in community supported agriculture; we grow natural hay for one of our NW Arkansas regional CSA suppliers, Summer Kitchen Farms, in exchange for a full season CSA subscription. For a small farm operation, this type of arrangement is essential and allows for greater flexibility in home/farm economic prioritizing. Our farms are 10 miles apart so this arrangement makes it simple for us to provide Summer Kitchen with a healthy, chemical free resource they use to feed their animals and mulch their gardens. This micro-cycle comes back to us as a barter in the form of a weekly basket full of healthy, chemical free produce, flowers, herbs, and locally-processed beef, pork, and chicken.
Bartering is not a new concept. This kind of produce trading model is the currency that helps keep operational costs down for small-scale farms, while also compensating for gaps in the spaces for local supply chain resources. Bartering resources is an age-old practice and a great way to build strong connections with your farming neighbors.
Our regional farming community is like many others — growing but also struggling with the lack of regional agricultural supply chains. Aggregation and distribution is a challenge. Local economic models inspired by community supported agriculture and the age old bartering system have allowed for our agriculture community to build interdependencies and resilience.