Report from the CSA Farming Conference in Beijing!
The farm where we spent most of our time was Shared Harvest farm, the founder of which (Shi Yan is her name) worked at a CSA farm in the US before returning to her hometown and starting up something similar. She got a lot of support from her local government, and hired a lot of young people to help with marketing and distribution, and hired some old pros (with their peasant wisdom) to manage the farming! They employ 35 people and feed 600 families.
Can you believe, each of those 600 CSA members gets to custom-order their vegetables?
Personally, I do think that a very busy person who is working all the time misses some of the finer points in life… like smelling the earth where your food comes from. It’s a hard point to argue though, in today’s society.
Even though this phenomena looks different in the US, and we have incredible freedom and democracy, urbanization really does threaten us too. When we take everyone off the farms so they can work/live/study in the city, where are we going to get our food?
We are forced to rely on low-labor, highly-mechanized factory farms that grow giant fields of mono-crops, and are more about business than about family and culture. While this presents convenience for us urban folks, what have we lost by the wayside when we’ve abandoned the hard-working peasant life?
Maybe we can regain some of the richness of our ancestors’ traditions, without completely going “back to the land” … maybe being a CSA member or a CSA farmer can be a way to stay connected to both worlds.
Below was the final slide presented by Shinji Hashimoto, a CSA farmer in Japan, who shared heartbreaking stories of his friends who farm near theFukushima nuclear disaster. He speaks with hope, and with conviction for this movement. Teikei is the original Japanese word for CSA. Teikei in Japanese means “cooperation”, “joint business”, or “link-up”. It is commonly associated with the slogan “food with the farmer’s face on it.”