Warm Place. Cool Shul.
What is a CSA?
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. A CSA offers the opportunity to buy and eat food that was grown by a local farmer, minimally-packaged, and is grown in ways that support the health of the planet. To join a CSA individuals or families commit in advance to buy organic produce from a local farm over the growing season, typically from May to October. The members’ advance payment helps to support the farmer’s season start up costs, which are usually significant. In return, produce is delivered once a week to a central pick-up location, where members rotate as volunteers to set it out for pickup. Usually there are subsidies for people who are low-income and produce that is left-over is usually given to a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. A CSA is a small-scale but effective way to confront some of the global challenges of pollution, land degradation and poor nutrition. And by their nature, CSA’s are platforms for strengthening community and for volunteer leadership development.
What is the Hazon CSA?
Hazon is America’s largest Jewish environmental group. They work to create healthy and sustainable communities in the Jewish world and beyond. Adath Israel has partnered with Hazon because they are a perfect match for our Jewish community and our partnership provides us with the opportunity to:
- Put Jewish purchasing power behind local family farms.
- Bring healthy, locally-grown food into Jewish homes.
- Create engaging, high-quality adult and family Jewish education around food and agriculture.
- Encourage Jewish participation in the sustainable agriculture movement while both broadening the Jewish commitment of those already Jewishly involved and creating an accessible gateway into Jewish life for those who have less or no involvement in the organized Jewish community.
- Build a cadre of volunteer leaders in the Jewish community.
- Spur Jewish people to re-examine what it means for food to be kosher – “fit” for us as well as for the community and the earth.
- Work towards a better understanding of just food systems and increasing access to healthy food.
How will the CSA work?
Before the growing season, members purchase an entire season of produce. Each week during the growing season, our farmers will make a delivery of fresh, organic vegetables to the synagogue. Members of the Hazon CSA come to pick up their “share” of the food each week.
Who is the farmer?
Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative (LFFC) serves the Lancaster and Philadelphia metropolitan regions through wholesale food service and community supported agriculture. When you join the CSA, you will receive 25 weeks of freshly harvested, certified organic produce from May to October. Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative is a nonprofit organic farmers cooperative of 64 farmers in Lancaster County Pennsylvania. They focus on creating healthy high quality foods from highly maintained and enriched soils on their small scale family farms. CSA members commit to support LFFC farmers for the entire growing season by paying for their share of the harvest in the winter and early spring. The farmers are able to purchase supplies in the winter and start their crops in early spring, they repay the shareholders in fresh, organic, seasonal produce. CSA enables you to keep local sustainable farms and local food safe for future generations. It’s a great legacy.
How Does Community-Supported Agriculture Benefit You and Your Family?
Quality: The produce you receive every week is always fresh. It is often picked the same morning as delivery – as opposed to conventional produce which is usually picked unripe and spends many days or weeks in transport before it is eaten. CSA Farmers grow many varieties of food that aren’t readily available, providing exciting new food experiences. Additionally, since CSA farmers usually work on a small scale, their attention to detail and commitment to produce quality is unparalleled
Cost: Buying organic food, especially from specialty organic markets, can be expensive. The price of CSA membership is competitive with and often cheaper than organic food prices at local grocery stores and even farmer’s markets. In addition, CSA’s can provide reduced-price shares for low-income people in their community.
Community: Your CSA distribution site can become an important social gathering place. Week after week, members get to know each other, share food ideas, and chat about their lives-exchanges that are far less likely to occur in regular supermarkets. The CSA also organizes field trips and activities that serve as further anchors for positive community building.
Education: Through active participation in a CSA, members are exposed to issues that affect agriculture in general and their produce in particular. In addition, CSA’s often organize lectures, events, and cooking demonstrations to further educate their members on topics related to organic food, local agriculture, etc.
How Does Community-Supported Agriculture Benefit the Synagogue?
Adath Israel will host the weekly CSA produce distribution. But, Adath Israel is much more than a weekly unloading dock for vegetables! It provides structural and administrative support for the CSA and will also be an important partner in education.
Innovation: Hazon’s CSA offers Adath the opportunity to be viewed in a whole new way – not only as a place of prayer or culture, but as a weekly home for the local, organic foods movement. It also offers new educational possibilities – a beit midrash around food-related texts, local-food Shabbat dinners, innovative holiday programming around Shavuot and Sukkot, and a platform for a range of new programs from cooking classes to farm visits and more.
Recognition: In 2010, all of Hazon’s 38 Institutional Partners in the US received significant press in their local Jewish papers for their involvement a CSA.
Members: Because the CSA will market both within and outside of Adath Israel’s membership, it may draw in people who wouldn’t necessarily come in to the synagogue otherwise. Several of Hazon’s sites have reported members joining the synagogue or JCC as a result of their involvement with the CSA. The weekly pickups can become an important social gathering place. Week after week, members get to know each other, share food ideas, and chat about their lives-exchange.
Partnership with Hazon: Through a CSA partnership, Adath has the opportunity to partner with Hazon in a variety of ways. Many synagogues and JCC’s send representatives to Hazon’s Food Conference, Bike Rides and Hikes. In addition, Hazon can offer scholars-in-residence and other specially-designed educational programs for us.
Is it better to buy local produce than organic produce?
One of the primary rationales for organic agriculture has always been that it protects the environment. However, even though it may have been grown in ways that are better for the earth, organic produce that is imported from far away still has negative impacts on the environment, especially in the form of pollution from fuel for transportation and the energy for refrigeration.
Local produce has many benefits. In addition to traveling shorter distances from farm to table, supporting local farmers ensures a market that enables local farms to stay in business. This in turn helps to protect local farmland. Buying local produce not only feeds us and sustains the livelihoods of local farmers, but preserves the beauty of the countryside – a beauty that is quickly disappearing.
Therefore, the most ideal situation is to buy local and organic.