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Community Supported Agriculture Part 2 

Wayne Harvey

As we learned in Part One, there are more than 5,500 shareholders in 120 Community Supported Agriculture farms in Maine, or CSA’s.In Part Two we learn what farmers think is in store for them in the future.They think the future looks bright and it’s mainly because in this tough economy, people want to know where their money is going and they want to keep that money local.”There’s no better way to support the local economy than to be involved with a CSA or purchase locally from a farm, a local farmer at a farmers market either one of those options at least you know you are supporting a local farmer, a local business.””The future is local. It’s outpaced organic as the fastest growing sector of the food market and organic has been growing by leaps and bounds over the last ten years, but the local food market is just taking over.”Ryan keeps that buy local philosophy with everything he does. He tries to buy everything made in the USA.”If I can get it you know from Maine especially, I’ll do that and that goes for all of my tools and things like that. If I can, the clothes I wear and things like that and I try to cause that’s one of my things, I’m a local farmer and if I want you to support local then I should be doing the same thing and I think that what goes around comes around.”Each farm has seen their membership grow every year and growing more than Mark McBrine of the Vine and Branch Farm of Bangor expected.”We were surprised how many people have become members, become shareholders. It seems like word of mouth is the best advertising and once someone does it, they tell their friends and it seems to spiral from there.”Ryan Parker of Parker Produce in East Newport thinks one of the reasons for his success and the success of all CSA’s is the green and organic movement in the country.”The fact that people are interested in organic just goes to show you that they want something else than what’s available and it’s definitely helping not only CSA’s, but local farmers. There are farmers markets and direct marketing. It’s definitely helping them.”McBrine agreed wholeheartedly, “people seem to want to be involved with a local farm, know their farmer, know where their food is coming from. It ends up being something they can get their family involved in.”They think the future of farming and produce is not the super farms in the Midwest, California or out of the country, it’s down the street.”So I think the future is local whether it’s CSA’s or farmers markets or buying clubs or things like that. I think that is where the food market is headed.” Parker added, “It’s going to take a long time to turn around the system but I think that’s where it headed because the global system that we have now isn’t sustainable so even if people were happy with it, it couldn’t last much longer, so I think CSA’s are just one aspect of the local food future.”McBrine says it will continue even if people have to pay up front for a season’s worth of food.”Some people, it becomes very hard for them and some people may look for the cheapest option they can find. For some people that are committed to local, good nutritional food then it’s a value for them to be involved in a CSA and that’s something they are more apt to do.”To find out more about Community Supported Agriculture farms in Maine log on to the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners website at www.mofga.org.Click on resources, and Community Supported Agriculture in Maine for a list of farms by County, or follow this link www.mofga.org/Resources/CommunitySupportedAgricultureinMaine/tabid/653/Default.aspx.