Below is an article from the Episcopal News Service. I thought considering our area and the number of farmers we have, perhaps this story would “plant a seed” (haha) to inspire anyone to discern if this is part of God's mission in Harris County. There is already a successful CSA in Harris County through Jenny Jack Sun Farm in Pine Mountain of which many of us belong. Perhaps there are others in Harris County that would benefit from such a co-op, yet can't afford to join. Something to think about…
Farmers put churches on the map
[Episcopal News Service] Drew and Joan Norman started growing vegetables on their farm in White Hall, Maryland, in 1985 and eventually One Straw Farm became the state's largest organic vegetable farm, selling wholesale to up-market grocers including Whole Foods and Dean & Deluca.
“But it wasn't really profitable,” Joan Norman said, in a telephone interview.
Then 10 years ago the Normans got involved in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), which eventually led to collaborations with more 40 drop/pick-up location partners, including ten churches and a synagogue. One Straw Farm and Episcopal Church of the Messiah in northeast Baltimore are partnering for the fifth year.
“It's like a triangle; the smallest structure that can support itself,” Norman said. “I need the church as much as I need people to buy shares, and the church needs me to get people across the threshold.”
It works like this: participants buy shares, providing the farmer with money up front — money that farmers traditionally borrowed from banks — in the spring. Then, beginning in late May, shareholders pick up eight items a week for 24 weeks, including fruits and vegetables, from drop/pick-up locations. A share in One Straw Farm costs $540 annually; the farm has about 2,000 shareholders, Norman said.
For every ten shares purchased by CSA members using a faith-based drop, Norman — herself an Episcopalian and member of St. James in Monkton — tithes one share, leaving it up to the church to decide how to use it – to donate to a food pantry, a family, a senior center, a soup kitchen.
Messiah holds the pick-up site on Monday evenings under a maple tree.
“We'd lost some members and were looking at new ways to do outreach … and in our conversations, food kept coming up,” said Sarah Miranda, coordinator for Messiah's pick-up site, adding that there used to be a farmers’ market serving the area but that it closed in 2000. “The CSA has deepened our relationships in the community. People slow down to get to know each other, drink ice water and chat. It's a wonderful little meeting place for a few hours every week.”
Alta Haywood, a Unitarian Universalist, drives 25 minutes one way every week to Messiah to pick up the share that she and her husband divide with another couple (it's not uncommon for people to split shares).
“It's good to encounter folks of other religions and see that we all share the same values,” said Haywood in a telephone interview, when asked how being a member of a CSA has helped her connect with the community.
For churches, it's easy. “You don't even need to change the acronym, 'Congregational Supported Agriculture,'” said Michael Schut, associate program officer for economic and environmental affairs in the Episcopal Church’s Advocacy Center, adding that CSA
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