Community Shared Agriculture: Come Join the Dance!

I am told that the Japanese term for community shared agriculture means “food with the farmer’s face on it.” So here you have it, the long overdue update to our farm family photo (with thanks to Annette for taking the shot and Johnny for editing it).

largo_farm_2019

Frightening as we both may find the image of our members staring into my face each time they pull a potato from the cupboard, I like the concept. At the time that community shared agriculture developed in Japan, women were becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the toxic substances their families were ingesting on their food. They did not feel they could trust the quality of commercial food. So they formed direct relationships with farmers, gaining the comfort of knowing exactly where their food was coming from.

Our situation is not so different. Though the food industry has responded to concerns about prevalent food allergies by conscientiously labelling their products, the same cannot be said for pesticides or genetic modification. And what about other ecological concerns around food production? Do we know how many fossil fuels were used to produce commercial foods? Or how much water was drained from shrinking rivers? How much do we really know about the foods we consume?

Community shared agriculture provides the assurance that you do indeed know where your food is coming from and how it is produced. Here at Largo Farm, we encourage all our members to come out to the farm several times a year so they can see how their food is grown, harvested, and stored, and can also participate in it. They have a relationship with both food and farmers. They know that we do not use any chemical fertilizers or pesticides, that we very seldom irrigate, that the primary energy going into our food is solar or metabolic (human or horse-power), and that we rely primarily on Mother Nature to provide our cold storage. The more curious among them know that most of our seed is home-saved and that we start our own bedding plants in a shared wood-heated greenhouse. And they all know (I hope!) that they are free to ask any other questions they might have.

They also know that by being a part of the Largo Farm Community Shared Agriculture community, they are helping us to keep this farmland clean and undeveloped and to live a cherished lifestyle. Our way of living is not perfect, nor is it for everyone, but we find it immensely satisfying. We live off-grid with wood heat, limited solar power, water hauled from the lake, and significant daily interaction with the community of life that sustains us. Being able to earn some cash through community shared agriculture enables us to live our lives in place to a greater extent than would be possible if we had to seek that income off-farm, and provides us with a stimulating social network.

Sound ideal? We think so, and we hope others will as well. Getting vegetables from the farm is less straightforward than picking them up at the grocery store, but we and our members believe it is worth the effort. Community shared agriculture offers a very special relationship which joins farmers, eaters, and the natural world in a twirling dance of reciprocity.

And this is the time of year when we invite new partners into the dance. Vegetable shares for the 2019 growing season are now available at our lowest price of the year, and we are seeking new members in both our Saskatoon and our Battlefords groups. You can find full details on the community shared agriculture tab of this blog. Please join us, and help spread the word to anyone who might be interested!

For our current members, the February vegetables shares go out this week loaded with those winter roots: potatoes, carrots, beets, and onions. This month’s onions are particularly colourful, as we have a mix of purple onions, yellow cooking onions, and multipliers. And the carrots continue as delicious as always, and are keeping fabulously this year. Hooray!

I don’t know about you, but we are always happy to find a new way to enjoy potatoes. Over the past month we have been learning about a new country each week and we recently covered Uganda. I found this scrumptious recipe for Ugandan potatoes, a simple way to spice up the humble spud:

1 kg potatoes, peeled and parboiled

1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp coriander

1 tsp tomato puree

1 Tbsp lemon juice

2 Tbsp oil

Heat the oil and saute the onions until golden, then add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add all the ground spices and stir fry for about 1 minute, then add tomato puree, lemon juice, and salt to taste. Cut the parboiled potatoes into 1/2” pieces and add to the rest of the ingredients. Stir well. Add 3/4 cup water and cook for about 10 minutes until the potatoes are cooked and the sauce reduced. Add extra water if needed. Bon appetit!

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