Wednesday, February 11, 2009

CSA at Churchview Farm

Please visit our website at for updated information regarding CSA and membership at Churchview Farm

(cats may sniff your produce)
(our first honey bee hive)

About Churchview Farm

In 2006 my husband Todd and I moved to what had been my grandparents’ small farm, located in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. With help from our parents we spent that summer renovating the small three-bedroom farmhouse where my father and his nine brothers and sisters grew up, and moved in October. This amazing piece of land, on a hilltop surrounded on three sides by woods, is a place where I spent a large portion of my childhood – picking berries with my grandmother, tagging along when my grandfather fed the pigs, cows and chickens, and spending time with my parents and myriad cousins. My grandparents were homesteaders, feeding their family with the produce they grew and preserved, and the meat and dairy from the animals they raised. And in a time before all-natural growing methods were trendy or widely practiced, they utilized them on their farm.

We have never used chemicals, pesticides or herbicides on the farm. The soil is supplemented with composted manure from a nearby farm, compost that we make on the property, and with organic minerals and soil amendments. We practice IPM (Integrated Pest Management) and crop rotation, and this year I will begin using a combination of cover crops and living mulch to amend the soil. Though we use organic, sustainable and all-natural growing practices, we are not certified organic. Organic certification is a daunting, time consuming and very expensive process that is not practical for many very small farms. Also, organic certification does not always necessarily equal sustainable practices. Sustainability involves the production of safe, healthy food while respecting all aspects of the farm - nurturing the soil, treating the animals humanely, and working with the natural ecosystem. In essence, it is about striving for a completely self-sufficient system – the farm using all of its natural resources to sustain itself. We are moving toward a completely sustainable system.

What is CSA?

CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is a way for the food buying public to create a relationship with a farm and receive a weekly basket of produce. Subscriptions can be as different as one farm is from another – they vary in price, duration, options and goods offered. By making a financial commitment to a farm, individuals and families become "members" (or "shareholders," or "subscribers") of the CSA, therefore sharing the risks and rewards associated with farming. In return, shareholders receive a weekly basket (or crate, or tote…) of fresh, seasonal, healthy produce that is (in this case) grown using sustainable and organic methods. In short, CSA programs connect people with their food. The closer you are to the food you purchase, the better it is for you, your family, the local economy, and the environment. The Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture has a wonderful quote about the local food movement that they call the Ten Dollar Solution:

If every household in Western Pennsylvania spent $10 a week on regionally-produced food, $15 million dollars would stay in the local economy each week. That's $60 million every month, and over $700 million per year. Spending money on local food not only sustains our economy, it provides us with greater nutrition, preserves family farms, generates job opportunities, and beautifies the rural and urban landscape. And don't forget that locally grown foods are likely to be fresher, tastier and safer for you and your family.