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Community Supported Agriculture: What’s In It For You?

Editor’s Note: Prairieland CSA is a sponsor of Chambanamoms.com

Prairieland CSA

By Anna Barnes, Prairieland CSA
No time to garden? Tired of farmers market crowds? Can’t make it to the market before everything you want is gone? Maybe it’s time to try Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA.

Champaign-Urbana is home to several CSA programs. These programs create partnerships between farmers and consumers. Consumers pay ahead of the season for just-picked produce, typically at prices below those of farmers markets. In exchange, farmers are assured a guaranteed home for their harvest.

Prairieland Community Supported Agriculture is one of the community’s oldest CSAs, started by members of Common Ground Food Coop in 1995.  It also is one of the largest, and for good reason.

Commitment to Community

Since its inception, Prairieland has donated a minimum of 10 percent of its produce. Surplus produce, as well as two shares donated by the farmers themselves, have gone to:

· Eastern Illinois Foodbank

· Saint Vincent de Paul

· T.I.M.E.S. Center

· Center for Women in Transition

· Greater Community AIDS Project,

· Daily Bread Soup Kitchen, and many more.

Prairieland works in partnership with area churches which purchase shares for their charitable projects, including First United Methodist Church and Community United Church of Christ in Champaign.

Prairieland’s Sponsored Shares Program, now in its 13th year, provides produce to individuals whose funds are limited due to chronic illness, recent divorce, or unemployment. Many of these individuals have paid their shares forward when their situations improved.

Reliable Farmers

Prairieland’s farmers, Jim and Diann Moore, have been growing for the CSA since 2003 and have 25 years of experience growing produce for farmers markets. The Moores have delivered despite floods and severe droughts.

With the income from the CSA, the Moore’s son, Wes, was able to join the farm in 2007. This is key because the number of young people choosing farming as a career is low. Nationally, the average age of an organic farmer is 51, and half do not grow produce.

The Moores operate their produce and livestock farm without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, or antibiotics. Their farm is a model of sustainability, so much so, that it has been featured in regional permaculture workshops. Additionally, the Moores train U.S. troops going to the Middle East in how to rebuild sustainable agricultural systems.


No Time Like the Present

Through December 31, Prairieland is discounting its shares from $450 to $400, to encourage early sign up. The 2013 season runs from June through October with weekly produce deliveries to convenient locations in Urbana and Champaign. Members also receive a newsletter with quick and easy recipes, and tips for using and storing their produce.

Installment payment plans are available, but you must register before December 31 to receive the discount. Additionally, for each friend you get to join, you will receive a $15 rebate on your share.

For more information, see www.prairielandcsa.org or call 217.355.6279.

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