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CSA= Community Supported Agriculture

CSA= Community Supported Agriculture

Douglas Gayeton for Lexicon of Sustainability

CSA= Community Supported Agriculture

Location: Angelic Organics, Caledonia, IL

Featuring: Farmer John Peterson

CSA = community supported agriculture = a mutually sustaining relationship between the consumer (shareholder) and the farmer whereby each looks out for the other’s needs and well-being + “Consumer and Producer join hands and stand face-to-face in a flux of self-interest and empathy” – John Peterson

Twenty years ago John started a CSA at Angelic Organics. It saved his farm's life. Before then, he relied on wholesaling, farmers markets and hope. First, a couple in Chicago contacted him after they found his farm’s name on a bag of onions. Then a surge of members came after the Chicago Reader ran a cover story about CSAs and mentioned Angelic Organics (a week later he had over two hundred new members). “Think of the farm as a table,” John says. “Our members and farmworkers eat from the same table. They engage in a celebration and a sacrament.”

Each year John has his CSA shareholders sign their annual contract. It say: “I understand that the farm workers will do their best to provide all they have promised, and I agree to excuse them for the mishaps that might trip them up.” Each Wednesday morning twenty employees gather to fill 1100 boxes. A box, which contains 9 to 10 vegetables and an herb or two, is delivered each week for 20 weeks.

Biodynamic Compost

Biodynamic Compost

Location: Angelic Organics in Caledonia, Illinois
Featuring: Ben and Farmer John

Biodynamic compost brings “aliveness” to the soil with principles established by Rudolph Steiner.

This compost contains cow manure, straw, a bit of horse manure and vegetables seconds mixed with the following biodynamic compost preparations:
prep 502: yarrow supports general growth processes
prep 503: chamomile guides calcium and potassium processes
prep 504: stinging nettles imbues compost with sensitive intelligence
prep 505: oak bark combats plant “disease” conditions
prep 506: dandelion helps plants access what they need
prep 507: valerian enhances relationship to warmth
The living forces carried by these preparations are all produced without leaving the realm of the living, and play an important role in the composting process.

Rudolph Steiner first outlined the principles of biodynamics, a system of organic agriculture, in 1924. He gave recipes for nine preparations. When added to compost or sprayed directly on soil and plants during the growing year, they stimulate and enhance biological activity on the farm.

John says, "chemical fertilizers instill soil with an imposter vitality, a bit like plastic surgery. They rely on synthetic nitrogen, which provides energy that looks and feels (extra) real, but it’s not sustainable. Chemical fertilizers are like drugs for plants. But drug addicts consume themselves, and inevitably they burn out. That’s why we work with real soil. For us, a very important consideration is the carbon to nitrogen ratio; compost should be 25-30 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen. This requires having the right amount of straw (carbon) in relation to manure (nitrogen). Using cover crops also increases soil fertility.”