PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Getting fresh food near your home is more popular these days thanks to a subscription program called Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).
A local farmer who participates in the CSA program, Michelle Week of Good Rain Farm in Gresham, showed KOIN 6 News how CSAs are also connecting more people to neighboring farms.
âI really wanted to start growing some of our early foods and really start reconnecting more deeply with my Indigenous ancestors,â Week said.
She is one of many women farmers owning land at Headwaters, an agricultural incubator belonging to the East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District.
For the second year in a row, CSA Pacific Northwest farm activity is up 200%.
âCSAs are like Kickstarters, but for small farm businesses. So you buy early in the season and we try to put together as much money as we can at the start of the season because that was literally the money used to buy seeds, start-up money, âWeek explained. .
âThen we use it to invest in other infrastructure or improvements that we need to keep the business and functioning,â Week said.
Like any startup, every harvest can be difficult to predict, but the clients who have invested rely on farmers to make the best decisions when they plan ahead.
âIn the shortest time, it takes around 40 days for a food crop to be ready for harvest and up to 180 days. So it takes a long time for us to see the benefits of our investment of time, energy and money in this food, âWeek said.
Then the part of the money you invest in the crops equals one delicious payout each week in your part of the partnership.
“This is how we reimburse our CSA members after they invest early on in the business, they receive boxes of food as and when they are ready throughout the season,” said declared Week.
Since Week’s farm is not rural, she said it benefits people who want to live in the city, while still having access to farm-fresh food.
âIt reduces my transportation costs to be located so close to the people who receive our food. It also makes it fresher and more nutritious, âWeek said.
This week’s food will only be harvested for a day or two before pickup.
âBeing peri-urban is really useful that way. We’re close to a lot of people, a lot of communities, and we can get this food to them faster, cheaper and fresher than if we were super rural, âWeek said.
Families in need can also benefit from these farms. The Pacific Northwest CSA Coalition said there was a 600% increase in sales from people paying with SNAP.
The coalition is what customers spend, up to $ 200, through what’s known as the Double Up Food Bucks incentive program.
Currently, there are about 150 CSA farms selling in Portland, and a few hundred of them in Oregon and southwest Washington, the coalition said.