What is a CSA Share?
What is a CSA share? CSA in an acronym for Community Supported Agriculture and is a system of small scale agriculture whereby community members support their local farmers directly by purchasing memberships in the farm’s CSA programme. In return members receive a share of the harvest each week during the growing season. Shares change with seasonal availability connecting members with the rhythms of the growing season in their region. In our region that looks like more greens and cool season crops like kohlrabi, and cool season roots like radishes early in the summer, tomatoes and beans coming mid summer and peppers, potatoes, and ginger coming at the end of the year. Memberships are purchased during the winter months when the farmer is purchasing seeds and upgrading infrastructure providing the farmer with need cash flow during the slow season. This means that members are putting faith in the farmer in the winter to grow a healthy share of produce during the summer. If weather doesn’t cooperate, or raccoons take over the strawberries, there may be less of some items to go around. However, if there is a bumper crop of beans or peas or tomatoes shares will have an abundance of those successful crops. And, if food prices spike or supply chain issues cause the price of produce in the grocery store to jump dramatically members have already secured their produce shares at the price set in the winter. CSA membership typically attracts community members who want to be more connected to their food supply and more in tune with local seasonal rhythms of food production. The relationship between the farmer and the members is direct without involving large food distributers, and supporting local sustainable food systems. We are in our third year of our CSA membership program at Coyote Song Farm & Forest. We are keeping our enrolment limited to a small number of members while we learn the ropes of market garden farming. We wish to ensure that we can provide each member with good value and dependable share sizes throughout the year while also being able to have produce and flowers available for sale at The Stop Farmer’s Market each week. When we have perishable produce remaining after market we are always happy to be able to make a contribution to the Beaton Cupboard food bank. Coyote Song Farm Share Details CSA memberships are priced at $675 for 2024. Our season runs from June 21/22 to Thanksgiving weekend for a total of 16 weeks. Each week our shares will include 6 - 8 items and will include a fresh flower bouquet every other week. Members can upgrade to weekly flowers for an additional $100 for the season. Members receive a newsletter with their share each week including recipe ideas and updates about how the farming season is progressing. Farm stay glamping holidays are discounted by 15% for CSA members. Shares will be delivered to Guelph and Erin area on Friday afternoons and to Toronto pick-up locations at ArtHubs Wychwood Barns or Kafé Daki (Oakwood Ave. north of St. Clair) on Saturday mornings.
April 7, 2022
Onions. Lots of baby onion plants. I haven’t much experience planting them from seed and last year found the allium starts a bit tricky. I’m learning though, and the little seedlings are coming along well. Onion plants go back a long way in my memory, back to my first farm experiences just outside of Chicago in Crystal Lake, Illinois. My mother was born onto a farm in Washington State. Her parents were “truck farmers” growing vegetables for market. They were forced to leave their farm and the house their community helped them build during the second world war when they were put into prison camps because they were from Japan. Many years later my uncle was able to purchase a hobby farm in Illinois and my ojiisan (grandfather) was able to grow vegetables and tend to a few chickens again at the end of his life. I loved the farm. Uncle Shuji would push me in the wheelbarrow through the fields and there was food growing all around. This city girl couldn’t believe that food happened like that. One day I was walking by myself through the fields and I saw an onion in the ground. It was an onion! It looked so onion-y it had to be ready to pick, so I pulled it up and ran back to the house to show everyone. Well, apparently it wasn’t ready at all and there was some scolding. I haven’t forgotten the excitement of seeing that onion to this day (or the scolding!). I didn’t see the trajectory between my ojiisan’s life and mine clearly until recently. I did not see myself as a descendent of farmers when we decided to start this farm, strangely enough. I think it took my mother saying how much Ojiisan would appreciate what I am doing for me to recognize that farming is indeed in my blood. What an unexpected path life has taken. It warms my heart to be able to provide my mother with farm fresh vegetables and flowers all summer so that she can taste the freshness of the field again as she did when she was a child. I am exploring Japanese varieties of greens, squash, eggplant and other crops hoping that something will be familiar to Mom and take her taste buds back to childhood and the farm that she was so unfairly torn away from. Thank you Ojiisan for the love of the farm that you have passed down to me. I hope to do you proud.
January 6, 2022
A year ago I was the poster child for resilience. Media outlets looking for a happy story of strength and perseverance picked up and ran with “...and now I’m a farmer!” A quick turnaround from loss to new life to give people hope during dark days. A year later as this pandemic is rapidly morphing into something new I find myself on the couch feeling heavy and not up to my poster-child image. In the early days of the pandemic I was fuelled by adrenaline. The shock of the loss, the panic to figure out how to survive and my ever-present problem solving response took over and helped me make a new plan and forge ahead. Now almost two years in, the buried feelings are emerging as I watch other restaurant owners facing the prospect that I faced, making very hard decisions, and wanting to hold tight to their staff. I feel their pain and anxiety deep within myself. The resilience story line glosses over those hard parts. To be demonstrating residence you have to have suffered much loss and hardship. And as for all grief, the path of recovery is not linear. Some days surrounded by seed catalogues and immersed in plans for this year’s flower fields and veggie crops I am energized and excited. Others the couch wants to consume me as I scroll endlessly through social media feeds offering glimpses of other lives and worlds I feel so cut off from. I do want my story to give people hope and suggest the possibility of bouncing back from adversity into a new, unexpected and meaningful life. We are all struggling one way or another as the pandemic drags on. The isolation and loneliness I feel is shared by many, some suffering far more profoundly. If strength is to come from suffering I think we need to acknowledge the hard parts for what they are - not deviations from our path of resilience but necessary steps to be traversed with care and attention. This spring I will plant more seeds. I’ll watch them grow every day. I’ll marvel at how nature wants to live, pushing the littlest green sprouts to withstand the winds, rain and scorching sun. And sometimes I’ll find weeds taking over, seemingly overnight trying to push the little seedlings down. I’ll help the seedlings out, clearing space for them to grow. But I’ll leave some weeds to flourish and admire them for their persistence too.