CSA Supports COVID-19 Recovery by Connecting Residents with Local Farms

Garden of Eve Organic Farm, Just Food, the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce, Flushing Queens Macaroni Kid, and local residents announced the 2020 Season of Flushing Community Supported Agriculture, a volunteer cooperative that seeks to expand healthier and sustainable food options for area families in the post-COVID recovery period.  

Flushing Community Supported Agriculture

The deadline to join Flushing Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is Friday, May 15.  The application form to become a member is available at www.flushingcsa.com.

The relaunch of Flushing CSA takes place amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which is wreaking havoc throughout the American food system.  Tens of millions of pounds of fruits and vegetables are rotting in fields as food banks across the nation scramble to meet a massive surge in demand, a two-pronged disaster that has deprived farmers of billions of dollars in revenue while millions of newly jobless Americans struggle to feed their families.

By leveraging a stable food supply chain, CSA ensures residents in our highly affected area have consistent access to nutritious food, while also directly supporting the local economy. The Flushing CSA helps to maintain the critical connection with our farmers during this difficult time to keep our families and theirs healthy, while also supporting local jobs and creating important community relationships.

Shares in the 2020 Flushing CSA Season will cost $598 a year and provide 25 weeks of vegetables — or about $24 a week of food — enough to feed an entire family.  

“Flushing CSA is a fantastic value. It seems a bit high upfront, but breaks down to less than $25 a week. $25 at a farmers market doesn’t buy 5-7 varieties of organic vegetables, but that’s what we get every week from our CSA,” stated Emily Griffin Sheahan, publisher of Flushing Queens Macaroni Kid.  “And I love the personal connection. I have met our farmers, my children have run in their fields with the farmer’s kids. It’s really nice knowing exactly where our food comes from and exactly where our money is going.” 

Confidential financial assistance is available to those who cannot afford the full season price thanks to the generosity of local business owners and CSA members who donate to support families in need. 

Members pick up their share weekly on Thursday evening at a central neighborhood location.  Flushing CSA vegetables will come directly from the Golden Earthworm Organic Farm in Long Island and are delivered directly to members – with no middle man or additional handling of food.  This system reduces the risk of contamination as well as limits the carbon footprint and fits the “100 mile” criteria for “locavores” who prefer to eat food grown by local farmers.  

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, an alternative model established in the 1960s by consumer groups concerned about food safety and the urbanization of agricultural land.  CSA groups are generally 40-100 members and are supplied directly by local farms; most CSA farms are organic, which means they do not use any synthetic chemicals to grow their food.  A CSA farm, depending on its size and scale, generally supplies up to a thousand local CSA groups.  Members pay once up front, usually in the spring, and then wait for the harvest season, which usually runs from June to November.  Once a week, for six months, CSA members receive a “share” of whatever is ripe that week — delivered to a central pick-up site in the neighborhood by the farmer.  A typical share includes about 5 to 8 different types of vegetables and generally feeds a family of three adults or two adults and two children. Share vegetables are typically picked, washed, packed and delivered to the CSA sites within 24 hours, ensuring freshness.

“There is no doubt that the fresh organic vegetables obtained through the CSA have encouraged the healthy and adventurous eating habits of my three young children,” stated Kate Feuer, long standing member and local resident. “Since joining Flushing CSA I have had the joy of experiencing vegetables that I never had eaten before and it has encouraged me to get really creative in the kitchen.  I feel good about supporting a local, organic farm with the most virtuous intentions.  I look forward to the start of every season with excitement and I enjoy seeing all the familiar faces of members that make up the Flushing CSA family. I can honestly say that my only regret is not becoming a member earlier.”

What makes joining a CSA unique is the concept of “shared risk.”  Residents buy a membership and get a selection of vegetables each week; sometimes friends, neighbors and extended family split a share.  There is no choice as to what you get each week – you simply get what is ripe (although members often swap vegetables with other members if they have specific preferences).  If there is a storm or blight that knocks out tomatoes, members simply won’t get any that season.  Of course, on the flip side, if it’s a bonanza season for zucchini, members might get a dozen a week for a month.  Buying into a CSA means you share in the bounty and the pitfalls of the crop season. 

“By relaunching Flushing CSA, we hope to empower our neighbors to learn about our ecology and demand a healthier, more vital food system that supports local communities, stated John Choe, executive director of the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce.  We not only eat healthier and help our community become more resilient through Flushing CSA, but also support a local economy less dependent on breakdowns in the global supply chain.”

Joining a CSA is a way to help urbanites feel a connection to their environment.  Not only are you getting fresh, local produce, but suddenly things like the weather take on new importance.  A rainy season isn’t just a concern to CSA members because they can’t wear their suede boots or need to remember their umbrella – rain will affect what vegetables they get.  A heat wave, or a cold snap directly influence crops and therefore CSA members.  Joining a CSA helps people feel a connection to their environment and impact a person’s view of their world in a way conventional shopping simply cannot.

For more information, visit http://www.FlushingCSA.com or flushingcsa@gmail.com or visit the Just Food network of CSA cooperatives in New York City at http://www.JustFood.org.

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