As I continue my research on CSA options for the coming season, I’ve noticed that there’s even more to some CSAs than fresh local food. For example, Rise and Shine Farm in Marshfield holds an annual raffle, the proceeds of which go to the Marshfield food pantry to support the distribution of produce to those in need. As part of their broader mission to create a community of people invested in local food and in their farm specifically, owners Marta, Doug and (their young son) Jamie MacFarland strongly encourage hands-on involvement by CSA members. They ask all members to participate in at least one potluck fun farm event, harvest or share distribution day, or special project during the course of the season. In addition to their Flex Share, where members elect to pick up their allotment of vegetables each week on Fridays at the Marshfield Farmers Market or on Tuesdays at the farm, Rise and Shine offers a Working Share where members agree to contribute 20 hours of work during the growing season. Member Coordinators help to organize shifts, accommodate members with physical or other limitations, and generally make the program run smoothly.
In nearby Hingham, Weir River Farm has an explicitly educational component to its mission. A Trustees of Reservations property, the farm is a fabulous place to visit even if you’re not picking up your weekly share of sustainably grown organic local produce. Home to a family of livestock and abutted by woods and conservation trails, the farm also hosts a summer camp and weekly public programs. CSA members can supplement their shares with the eggs Weir River sells daily from their hens and meat sold seasonally from their herd of Belted Galloway cows and Tamworth red pigs. The farm’s Market Garden program offers produce on Saturdays at the Hingham Farmer’s Market, accepting food assistance vouchers and contributing to local food pantries and soup kitchens.
Norwell Farms, located on historic Jacobs Farm, is also an educational not-for-profit venture. By offering public events, sustainable farming and food production programs and contributions of part of its harvest to the Norwell Food Pantry, this young enterprise has already built strong connections in the town and surrounding areas. As a community farm, Norwell Farms relies primarily on the support of volunteers and CSA members who pick up their allotment of vegetables at the farm each week.
Health, environment, community, livelihood, education, and historic preservation–I’m hard pressed to think of similarly easy and tasty ways I could have such an impact in all of these areas with just a few hundred dollars per year!