The members of the Kitchen Table do lots of things in New York City, much of it centered around finding, preparing and eating great food. But one thing we don’t do, for now, is grow our own food. We called Paula at Justfood NYC, an organization who’s main mission is to connect farmers and NYC communities who want to begin C.S.A.s. We called her looking for an already established C.S.A. that was still open, and had subsidized shares, but she replied that she had a farmer looking for a community in uptown Manhattan, and did we know of any organizations?
When we told her that we were a collective who were open to organizing a C.S.A., the rest quickly became history.
C.S.A. stands for Community Supported Agriculture. This is a new name for an ancient practice: a farmer forms a relationship with an urban community, who together buy a share of the farm at the beginning of the growing season. The community is assured a share of what is planted, and agrees that they will accept losses due to drought, flood, insects, etc. The farmer is assured that she or he will be able to support themselves financially throughout the season (rather than relying solely on weekly markets which can bring in no business if, for example, the weather is bad), and agrees to plant what the community wants to eat. The farmer brings the food to the community, who splits it into “shares”, on a regular basis, often every week. This type of relationship was the basis of urban settlements being able to form in the first place: if people were sure that they would have food, they could busy themselves with making crafts, trading and doing all the things we do in cities.