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Journalist Steven McFadden is the author of over a dozen nonfiction books, including "The Call of the Land: An Agrarian Primer for the 21st Century" - now in an expanded 2nd edition from NorLightsPress.com.
Most recently, Steven authored a Soul*Sparks eBook - "Classical Considerations: Musings Prompted the Late John H. Finley, Jr."
The concepts of community supported agriculture (CSA) grab at the imagination: reconnect with the land and farmer, know exactly where your food is coming from, work toward self-sufficiency. Such a utopian vision clashes gloriously with the disconnected, "cocooning" lifestyle of many people. This textbook for the CSA movement, first published in 1990 and "revisited" in this volume published in 1997, lays out the philosophies and actions that brought CSAs into our awareness today. You might know a CSA farmer, and perhaps even are a CSA member. But unless you're the farmer herself, or on an advisory board for a CSA, you probably have not considered many of the philosophical questions. In half-a-dozen essays comprising a third of the book, questions are explored such as: Should farmers or the CSA own the land? How should farmers' retirement be arranged? Should animals be part of the farm, and should meat be part of the CSA shares? Three basic rules of such holistic farming are offered: 1. Do not work too many hours (leave time for observation, reflection and meditation). 2. Buy for the farm as little as possible from the outside world. 3. Take all the initiative for your actions on the farm out of the realm of the spirit, not out of the realm of money. The book talks of creating an "associative economy" and a "parallel polis" that look at society differently. One premise is that the farm should be supported by the entire community, and the risk shared equally by all consumers. Another is that farmland should not be a market commodity. Part of the book consists of essays by CSA farmers on their own operations; many were written for the first volume and updated, so the trials of time can be seen.Read more ›
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I've been thinking in an unstructured way about a number of these issues due to being a recovering member of a housing co-op, a new member of a CSA, and trying to start a group that gets raw milk from a (sort of) local biodynamic farm. And just thinking about farming. As I see it, the set of issues include: (1) the various natures of CSAs, (2) the modern analogue to the slightly-more-than-subsistance family farm that recognizes that the nature of family has changed radically in the last 50 years for much of "the West", (3) the role(s?) and definition of sustainability as it relates to farming in a number of forms (providing some insight into the current debate about the commercialization of the "organic movement"), (4) how to farm damn well! Trauger Groh is a very thoughtful and insightful person (and shockingly European to this American. I mean this approvingly. He's an outgrowth of the highly-educated European farmer group that was associated with Steiner) and a farmer that seems to have spent most of his adult life trying to make this stuff work. And he has succeeded. And part of this appears to be a sort of memoir of that success. And another part is his responses to talking about this with a variety of people (note especially the new article about the role of farm animals, much of which is explicitly a response to vegetarian and vegan oriented organic-farmers) Steven McFadden is a journalist who documents a variety of CSAs and historical movements that have impacted the CSA movement. Both offer interesting things. This book would be worth buying just for the stuff by Groh
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