FairShare Coalition works to pair the community with farmers through CSAs

Find Your Farm event is March 17
FairShare Coalition works to pair the community with farmers through CSAs
Photo courtesy of Vermont Valley Community Farm

Earlier this month at FairShare Coalition’s third annual Food and Farms Festival, food system leaders discussed the importance of knowing where your food comes from. Scott Laeser, Water Program Director Director at Clean Wisconsin and farmer at Plowshares & Prairie Farm, says supporting farmers with innovative practices like planting grasses, perennials and cover crops to reduce water pollution can make a big difference. “The food you buy can reflect the values you aspire to live by,” Laeser says.

CSA farmer, blogger and cookbook author Andrea Bemis, owner of Tumbleweed Farm in Mount Hood, Oregon presented her film, Local 30, about her quest to eat only local foods–within 200 miles of her home–for 30 days. Bemis’ advice for people wanting to eat locally was simple: “Go to a farmers’ market,” Bemis says. “Join a CSA.”

Joining a CSA–Community Supported Agriculture–is a way to buy local food directly from a farmer. People purchase “shares” and become farm “members.” In order to help people find the right CSA farm for them, the FairShare Coalition, which connects farmers and consumers, will host a Find Your Farm event on Sunday, March 17 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Monona Terrace.

This is the 27th year that FairShare will hold a spring sign-up for people looking to join CSAs. I recently met with Carrie Sedlak and Erika Jones of FairShare to discuss the film festival and the upcoming CSA open house event. If interested in finding a local CSA, there is a list of local CSAs delivering to the Madison area toward the bottom.

What was the theme of this year’s Food and Farms Festival?
CS: The theme was “downstream” and we looked at the downstream impacts that everyday food choices have on the economy, the local community, the environment. Local 30 took a close look at the hard work that goes into producing food and what it means to eat local for 30 days. Andrea Bemis took us on a quite journey meeting all of those producers.

What can you take away from Bemis’ message?
CS: To really think about how your food is produced, who produces it, and how many hands it passes through to get to your plate–and to try to minimize that ideally so it’s literally from a farmers’ hands to yours.
EJ: That relationship piece is key–knowing the people raising your food. Know your farmer and know your food. The [Willy Street] co-op makes it easy because September is “eat local” month. Joining a farm is a really easy way, too. A lot of farms have supplemental items–preserved food, eggs, coffee. People can go to our [website] (https://www.csacoalition.org) and use the farm search tool to really hone in on what you want from your farm.

Why do you encourage people to join a CSA?
EJ: Being a member of a CSA is transformative. When you actually are conscious of where your food is coming from and you have that relationship, it changes you in a positive way and maybe unexpected ways. It’s a powerful way to use your limited food budget in support of a farm directly.

What can people expect at the Find Your Farm event this Sunday?
EJ: There will be 18 farms at the open house. Because there are so many options–in FairShare we have 42 farms–we will help people connect to farms with values that matter to them. We will help people find the CSA that is the right fight for them but the most important thing we want people to do is talk to the farmers and make that connection.

Why is being part of a CSA different than going to a farmers’ market?
EJ: It deepens the connection to a specific farm. You get access to special events and special deals. There is a mutual advantage because in the beginning of the season it helps the farmers plan for their season and the nice thing about a share at a pick-up in your neighborhood is that it can be super convenient. Many farms also allow you now to reschedule and there are lots of small share options. There are specialty shares like apples shares and egg shares and a lot of farms have special events like member parties and pizza nights.

Why is it so important to eat local food?
EJ: It’s the relationship–knowing where your food is coming from and how it’s being grown. Not only is it grown in an environmentally responsible way, but the farmers can make a living and dollars are going back to your community.

CSAs delivering to the Madison area

Before the weather fully heats up, consider signing up for a local CSA to receive fresh produce during peak growing season. Many farms in the area offer options for Madison and Dane County residents. Take a peek at this list to get started finding the right one for you.

Blue Moon Community Farm
3856 Schneider Drive, Stoughton

Burr Oak Gardens LLC
W5511 County Road B, Rio,

Christensen’s Farm
N2755 County Road M, Browntown

Crossroads Community Farm LLC
4144 County Road J, Cross Plains

High Meadow Farm LLC
N6967 South Lane, Johnson Creek

King’s Hill Farm
19370 County Road G, Mineral Point

Los Jalapeños CSA
2299 Spring Rose Road, Verona
807-9950 (English), 576-2743 (Spanish)

Lovefood LLC
1679 Pleasant View Road, Stoughton

Luna Circle Farm
N2765 Severson Road, Rio

Marr’s Valley View Farms LLC
21471 S. Oak Park Road, Mineral Point

Parisi Family Farm
3718 Halvorson Road, Stoughton

Plowshares & Prairie Farm
5532 County Road G, Argyle

Raleigh’s Hillside Farm
901 N. Marsh Road, Brodhead

Riemer Family Farm
W2252 Riemer Road, Brodhead

Rock Lake Organics

Roots Down Community Farm LLC
4146 E County Road N, Milton

Scotch Hill Farm & Innisfree Farmstay
17310 Footville Brodhead Road

Snug Haven Farm
1170 Hageman Road, Belleville

Sprouting Acres
1746 Hwy 73. Cambridge

Squashington Farm
9921 Barton Road, Mount Horeb

Steadfast Acres
33408 State HWY 130, Lone Rock

Tipi Produce
14706 West Ahara Road, Evansville

Troy Farm
502 Troy Dr., Madison

Two Good Farms
W1547 County Road K, Columbus

Two Onion Farm
19638 Cottage Inn Road, Belmont

Vitruvian Farms
2727 US Highway 51, McFarland
(414) 704-5379

Wholesome Harvest
W8180 County Road C, Fort Atkinson

Winterfell Acres LLC
W1912 Mortensen Road, Brooklyn