Why a CSA Farm?
Because of the ice, I am staying home today and sitting by the fire. I thought I would take this opportunity to discuss the reasons why I am starting an organic Community Supported Agriculture Farm.
I moved to Mississippi from Atlanta in the fall of 2007 to teach at the University of Mississippi. While I loved living in Atlanta and gardening at my suburban home (see photos), I soon discovered that the rural lifestyle of Lafayette County suited me well.
When I came to Oxford, I knew that I wanted to find some property to build a home on. In order to get settled into my new job at the university, sell my home in Atlanta, and find the right property, I decided to move into a temporary residence. For 18 months, I rented and lived in a small cabin behind the home of local painter, Robert Malone, in the artists’ community of Taylor, Mississippi, 6 miles south of Oxford. In October of 2007, I found and purchased the 19 acres that is now Yokna(patawpha) Bottoms Farm. In August 2008, Bill Todd Construction (highly, highly recommended) began work on my home. I found the plans for a 1900 square foot, three bedroom, 3 bath home with a 360 degree wrap-around porch. Bill Todd and I also designed (and Bill built) a garage with a 600′ apartment loft with a 6′ x 18′ deck. The home was built to maximize energy efficiency and includes supplemental wood heating (a fire place with a blower) and a south-southeast exposure to maximize solar energy. The home was built with reclaimed brick and heartpine beams, includes a metal roof, Hardyplank siding, tankless water heaters, a skylight, and sewage treatment system.
From the beginning, I have planned to use the land for food production. The reason I built the loft was to have a living space for a “farm manager.” My biggest problem is that I work 60+ hours a week at the university and having someone manage the farm is essential. Fortunately, last October (2009) Daniel and Alison Doyle, along with their newborn baby, Sophia, agreed to take on the role. What they lack in experience, they make up for in enthusiasm, willingness to learn, and work ethic. Without going in to too much detail about CSA’s other than to say that I experienced them (and their incredible produce) in Atlanta through various farmers’ markets and the organization Georgia Organics http://www.georgiaorganics.org , a CSA is a perfect model for utilizing the land for food production. This is not a money making endevour for me; rather, my only goal is to support local food production, encourage sustainable agricultural practices, and to provide a center for community agricultural, educational, and artistic activity.
Yokna(patawpha) Bottoms Farm is is a cooperative CSA. In others words, while we will sell “shares” to provide capital for the farm operations, our primary desire is that members earn shares through volunteering to work on the farm (more on this later) and/or providing much needed resources (loaning or donating a tractor, fencing material, manure, compost).
Our current plan is to devote 50% of all produce to sell at (and support) local Farmers Markets in Taylor, Oxford, and Water Valley. The proceeds from the sale of this produce will be used to finance farm operations. The remaining 50% will be divided into equal shares to be distributed to the members. The intial offering of the farm will be capped at 50 shares; however, the number of actual shares will determine the level of our initial plantings (my plan is to make a per share list of everything we plant–for example: for each share we might plant 5 tomato plants, 5 pepper plants, 2 of several different types of squash, 1 cucumber plant, 10 bean pants, etc.). My current thinking (subject to discussion and modification) is that one share will cost 25 volunteer hours, or $250.
More to come …