Letter to our Shareholders
August 22, 2011
I am helping to grow your food as an apprentice farmer. I came to Drumlin in May after graduating from Tufts University where I wrote a senior thesis about CSA. I’m writing to share a bit about the history of this innovative distribution model and to explore some of the benefits of your Drumlin CSA membership.
Did you know that the CSA concept itself is a local product? In 1985, CSA started right here in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, with just 2 farms and a little over 100 shareholders. Robyn Van En, a young mother and gardener, launched Indian Line Farm CSA. She opted for community-engaged agriculture, a significant departure from conventional and more anonymous models of growing, finance, and marketing still employed by most farms today. Her shareholders appreciated the CSA share as an unconventional product. They envisioned their participation as casting food dollar votes for the local economy and for their local, living soil. They voted for a farmer with a face*, and agreed that the risks of the weather should be balanced between growers and eaters. They voted for growing seasons to come, since their share price included long-term goals of the farm. Our current system dangerously excludes matters of sustainability from the price of food, calling them externalities. With committed consumers, CSA farmers can think about long term land use, maintaining fertility, environmental stewardship, ecological pest control, and growing the right food for their members, instead of only worrying about the bottom line. Shareholders can take pride in the healthy land and farmers that support them, leaving the untraceable items stocked at the grocery story.
To its founders, CSA was not just a marketing device. It was a means to rethink food economics entirely. The hope was for farmers and consumers to consider each other dependents, and for their relationship of exchange to be a social one, full of trust, understanding, and communication. Together, we can carry on the mission of CSA! We grow this food specifically for you. Thank you for supporting sustainable agriculture at Drumlin and a sustainable economy for the planet.
All the best,
*”Farmer with a face” is the translation of “teikei”, a Japanese version of CSA that started around the same time as the European model, which inspired Robyn Van En.