The Yoga of Community Supported Agriculture
"What can I do?" It's a question that we all ask ourselves at some point. You may even have read sustainable farming leader, Joel Salatin, posing the same question recently in his Guest Scribe post here in the WanderlustJournal. Many people have spent the better part of their lives asking that same question, and if there is one thing that we can all agree on, it is that there is no one answer. Some go inward: spending time working on themselves, developing a regular “practice” and practicing self-care in the hopes of uplifting and healing those around them. Others selflessly throw themselves into causes, projects, and service to others at the expense of their own happiness and well-being. However, the two approaches may not be at odds.
The recent farming film American Meat takes an honest and non-judgmental look at meat production in our country from an economic, ecologic, and social perspective. A recent screening coincided with the 6-month anniversary of an event that happened on our farm that we called “Chestergate”. In short, our small farm had raised a pig, Chester, as part of the farm ecosystem, and this turned into a heated public debate about the ethics of veganism, sustainability, community, and a myriad of other issues.
The talkback after the film became an unlikely showdown between members of the “conscious community” and the “sustainability community.” And on another level it was a challenge in integrating “internal work” with external action.
The most important lesson we learned from both the film and Chestergate is that since we are all in this together and need to actively work together. In other words, being an active member of a compassionate community transcends the details of all solutions.
So, what does that specifically mean to us civilians? One great way to become a member of a compassionate community is to join a Community Supported Agriculture program, where you commit to becoming a member of a local farm. Traditionally, this has meant paying in advance for a share of the food that is produced on a nearby farm, which you then receive on a weekly basis for the duration of the farming season. You literally become a stakeholder in the farm and share the risks inherent in producing food. In return, you receive a discount on food that is higher quality than you would get at a farmers market, among many other benefits (10 reasons to join a CSA).
Like many who start practicing yoga as a form of exercise for the body and soon discover the additional benefits to the mind and spirit, the CSA represents more than just a sustainable form of nourishment.
The truth is that being a member of a CSA is work. Showing up once a week to pick up two heavy bags of food is a real commitment. Preparing a myriad of fresh – and sometimes unfamiliar – vegetables every week for 20 weeks or so is not easy (Note: a juicer is a great shortcut for using vegetables that would otherwise go unused). However, the benefits of cooking and eating ultra-fresh food grown from seed with love is hard to measure.
And of equal importance, you truly do become a member of a community of people who are working together to be part of the solution. Some members gift their share to friends, thus “delegating” their work while sharing the love and spreading the word. Others strengthen community in their workplaces by organizing drop points and donating “high vibrational food” to others who might not otherwise eat it. Some members visit the farm at various points of the season and actively participate in prepping, planting, weeding, harvesting, or simply attend farm events. In the end, it does not matter at what level you opt to participate in your CSA, as long as you are participating.
Ultimately, the yoga of CSA really is the union of service to self and to others, and our earth.
~ Growing Heart Farm is dedicated to sustainable living and education in the New York City Region, the farm delivers CSA shares to NYC and Brooklyn once a week from spring to fall. The farm hosts frequent Yoga and farm related events and retreats and is located within walking distance of the Harlem Valley Wingdale metro north train station 75 miles north of New York City.
The farm practices small scale sustainable agriculture using hand tools, solar power, spring water, and a wood heated greenhouse. Learn about our hybrid flavor of farm life on our blog. Join us and grow with us as we all re-learn to live in balance. Download a 2013 CSA enrollment form here, and reach out with questions to CSA@growingheartfarm.com.