It’s 6:30 on a Thursday evening in late winter. The dark doesn’t stop 3-year-old twins Caroline and Josephine from playing happily between boxes and trestle tables under the lamp-lit canopy. Their mother, Emily Sheahan, keeps an eye on them as she meets with the Flushing CSA Core Team to discuss the winter veggie lineup.
Brought together by a shared love of food, Flushing Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) is the very essence of an urban community: a diverse group of locals cooperating to provide their families with clean, healthy food and creating a close-knit network in the process. In the case of Flushing CSA, members buy a “share,” that is, they pay up front in the spring for weekly boxes of produce from June 1 until the week before Thanksgiving. The CSA also offers a share during the winter months.
What began as a conversation between neighbors in 2009 has expanded to 50 members. Flushing CSA takes its role as a community builder seriously. Every member must commit to volunteering to distribute the shares twice during the season. Founding and current core group member Judy Karlin’s cheerful smile makes everyone feel welcome, even those in need. The CSA offers subsidized shares for those without the means to pay in full.
When members and interested locals met in the Quaker Meeting House on Northern Boulevard in March, Ryan Kroeger, CSA manager at Golden Earthworm Organic Farm, walked them through the process of planting, tending and harvesting the CSA produce to assure the gathering that produce is delivered in Queens within 24 hours of being harvested.
Sheahan, Karlin and the other core members have spent hours organizing the event, as well as many more hours planning and running the CSA. “This is my community, it’s where I live, and I want it to work,” said Sheahan, an at-home mother of three. Stepping up and taking charge also helps Sheahan maintain her professional skills while raising her kids.
Larry Leung, another core group member, loves that “the decisions on what to cook are based on what is available seasonably. You can eat tomatoes all year, but with the CSA you realize that tomatoes are at their absolute best in July and August in New York.”
John Choe, another founding and core group member. agrees. “Being in the CSA has forced me to eat better. Wasting all these vegetables isn’t an option.” While organic produce is expensive in stores, when priced out, only one store came close to matching the CSA’s prices—but with regular produce, not organic.
“Besides, you don’t have to go to the supermarket and decide what to buy,” Sheahan adds. “Mother Nature has made that decision for you.”
This connection to nature is treasured. “In the supermarket, something like global warming can seem a long way away,” Leung said. “But with a CSA you’re close to the reality of farming and its dependence on the weather. I was in a Manhattan CSA during Hurricane Irene. Our upstate farmer was flooded out, and we had no produce for two months.”
It’s easy to understand why members are so committed. At pickups they greet each other like old friends. Few fail to stop, talk to the twins and catch up with each other before heading home to eat.
You can read the full story here: “Bringing Good Food and Community to Queens.”
Flushing CSA at the Flushing Spring Festival
You are invited to the Flushing Spring Community Festival at Margaret Carman Weeping Beech Park (located at Bowne Street and 37 Avenue in Flushing, Queens) on Saturday, May 19, 11am to 4pm.
This year’s Festival theme is “This Place Matters.” Flushing CSA will be there along with many other community groups. There will be fun and educational family-friendly activities, so we hope you will come.
Please stop by the Flushing CSA table and say hello. The CSA will be demonstrating fermentation techniques with one of the organic veggies we get in our farm shares as well as provide information on organically grown produce.
Last Day to Sign Up for Flushing CSA
If you stop by the Festival, you can still sign you up in person to join Flushing CSA. If you know anyone who is interested, please let them know our deadline is nearing and they can sign up at the Festival. It will be the last chance to apply for the 2018 season.
Feel free to invite your family, friends, neighbors and schools to the Flushing Spring Community Festival at Margaret Carman Weeping Beech Park (located at Bowne Street and 37 Avenue in Flushing, Queens) on Saturday, May 19, 11am to 4pm.
We hope to see you there!