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BEST CSA (TIE) Dallas 2013 - Eden's Organic CSA and Comeback Creek Farm

Marie Tedei is a tireless advocate for the local food movement, and her words have the weight of a farmer behind them. Tedei is the person behind Eden's Organic CSA. Tedei is quick to mention that a CSA, which stands for Community Supported Agriculture, is as much a relationship between the farmer and the customer as it is a transaction involving money and vegetables. As a member, you commit to a yearlong relationship with the farm. In exchange for your money Tedei puts together a basket of the seasonal vegetables when they are available, generally from October to July. Start and end dates vary from year to year because it's farming, not a factory. You can pick your share up on her farm in Balch Springs or at the Green Spot in Dallas.

Pittsburg, Texas, with its absurdly large pavilion bust of hometown chicken magnate Bo Pilgrim, is not the first place you'd expect to find a co-op dedicated to sustainable organic agriculture. But somehow, Comeback Creek Farm has managed to carve out a niche. You can find them sometimes at White Rock Local Market selling their excess carrots or kale, but the more reliable way to enjoy their bounty is to sign up for their community-supported-agriculture program. Pay for your share of the harvest in advance, then pick up every weekend at any of their numerous local drop-off locations.

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2 comments
Mark Wootton
Mark Wootton

Minor correction - a co-op is different from a CSA. Some folks intimately involved find this distinction very important.

edensgardener
edensgardener

@Mark Wootton

Mark is right, a co op is not the same thing as a CSA. And both Comeback Creek and Eden's are CSA model farms - not multi-farm co op food distributors. Many small farms pool together with other local farmers to help each other out, but that is not the same thing as drawing from a nationwide, or even a statewide, pool of mid-scale or large farms to fill weekly orders for people who'll never come close to even meeting the people who grew their food, much less visiting the farm it came from. There's not really a direct connection to their food.  And that is one of the sweet benefits of local, small farms - connecting to your foods' source and grower.

There are several ways to support small, local farms and CSA is the most direct, and probably one of the most important ways, because small farms can not compete on a wholesale level with mid size or large farms.

Here's a great article from one of the founders of the CSA movement in the US. She co-authored a book that totally humbled me about farming and where my food has come from my whole life called Sharing the Harvest.This recent article captures the spirit of sharing the risk and the harvest with a small CSA farmer.

http://grist.org/locavore/csa-just-a-vegetable-subscription-or-a-way-to-truly-connect-with-your-farm/ 

Education about the benefits of eating in season is lacking - and most of your small farmers do what they can to show and tell you the benefits, but it is indeed not 1st nature to skip the strawberry display in November - and eat something from the freezer or pantry you "put up" last spring. This is why CSA is not as easy a sell as we'd like it to be. Plus, there's the ups and downs of being a farm in a location that may not see rain when it needs to, or gets hit with grasshoppers, or has other out of their control issues that lower their yields. String a few of these seasons together, and the small farm who has no community support, is beholden solely to their banker - and they don't often take eggs or rainchecks on payments due.

I wish small local farms were seen as more of an asset to our communities, not just a novel thing to have around. They help bring education and lifestyle options to many people; provide small business opportunities for not just the farmer, but others as an extension of the farm; and bring the freshest, most naturally raised food around, (dare I use the O word), from seed to your plate.

Please, join a CSA, shop directly with a farmer at a market, fill in with an order by number delivery co op, and of course, your local grocer has what you can't live without. But local food sources like these and the handful of other very small farms in the area, need direct support - financially in whatever ways you can, (some offer tours, classes, market stands, etc.) as well as roll-up-your-sleeves volunteer help from time to time, too.The hurdles we often face may not seem like mountains to climb to some people or businesses, but on our small scale economy, many things can break us. Toxic spraying for mosquitoes and the hours that are spent fighting that; unrealistic urban zoning and code enforcements that generally stem from privacy invasions; urban tax law guidelines that are draconian and take years to catch up with the farm's land use, and competition from corporate scale production facilities and advertising campaigns all over the nation bringing people whatever they want to eat - regardless of the season or it's actual contents.   Eat REAL food. Please. :)

Thank you to the DO for this recognition. I was truly surprised and am very grateful and humbled to be in the company of such a great farmer, John Kilburn from CCF. Thank you to the many chefs who do all they can to use what we raise in season, and to our loyal community of csa and market customers. We couldn't never survive without you! 

 See you all at the Chefs for Farmers event this fall!

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