Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Real Dirt on Farmer John: 90 Minutes later and I'm CSA'ing

I just saw The Real Dirt on Farmer John last night but couldn't blog about it until now. I was so moved that I needed a good night's sleep to organize my thoughts.

In case you haven't heard, the film is a documentary that was written and narrated by Farmer John Peterson of Angelic Organics in northern Illinois. He sketches a portrait of Midwestern life that is quirky and truthful, depressing and hopeful.

The film is about triumphing over tragedy, the merits of an open-mind versus a closed one, and the horrible creep of ostracism. It honors the human spirit and the dirt black earth. It crystallizes the heartbreak of development's encroachment on our farmlands in a single 20-second scene. It's a loving tribute to a way of life and the rewards awaiting all of us who pursue a greener planet.

Needless to say, I urge you to go see it.

About Community Supported Agriculture

The film also introduced me to the concept of Community Supported Agriculture or CSA. Simply put, it means that individual buyers of produce (like you and me) establish a direct buying relationship with farmers like him.

After getting home from the movie last night, I logged on and bought a share of his farm. When harvest time comes, he'll deliver a carton (the size of a small microwave oven) full of fresh, organic produce to a single drop off point in Bucktown once a week for twelve weeks (or 20 if you prefer).

If for some reason, the crop should experience a disastrous year, we'll all suffer via our less full box of produce. The farmer's risk is spread out among all of us. In turn, he farms the land organically, provides us with the nutritious abundance, and protects his part of the earth from development.

It's not cheap, about $50 per week for 12 weekly shipments of veggies and fruits. (It's less if you drop the fruits.) But, it's certainly on par with or less than the costs of an equivalent box of organic produce at Whole Foods. The food will be exceptionally fresh, and, assuming a solid harvest season, it will leave me with plenty to share. (Although, I may seek a second family to split the costs and produce with.)

I can't think of a better thing to do for my family and my planet with my grocery money.

(And, if you're not in the Chicagoland area, this link will help you locate one near you. )


Kuz said...

We're signing up with this one. I think the whole concept is awesome. Ours comes out to only $25 a week, which is an amazing deal. Farms rock.

payton said...

watch out: it's a hefty bucketload of food. you've got young'uns, so it'll be easier to work your way through it, but you might want to team up with a friendly neighbor just in case. (or maybe get some canning equipment.)

Jennifer said...

Thanks for the notice. I got a little swept up in the moment of the movie. But, I'm optimistic I'll be able to find some other families to share it with.