Lately I've been most excited about the beautiful partnerships formed with other small, local businesses making HUGE changes in our local community and ultimately in the world. There is one in particular that I'm super excited about. Fourfold Farms CSA. This CSA is run by four, young, enthusiastic and energetic farmers - Seb, Bethany, Andrew, and Erin. Determined to not let the lack of affordable farm land slow them down, this fabulous four formed a partnership with a farmer couple living on the outskirts of Guelph - Fourfold Farm. The original farmers- Sandra Moerschfelder and Mark Ross - have given the four complete access to portions of their land to farm however way they dreamed. And dream they have.
One of the challenges was finding a way they could affordably build their dwellings. They needed something that was cost effective and could be set up quickly because farming season starts pretty much as soon as the frost leaves the ground, leaving them little time to build. They came up with very creative solutions -Andrew and Erin built a hand made yurt and Seb and Bethany ordered a custom built-to-order yome. Andrew and Erin spent the Autumn and Winter months building their yurt from scratch. They cut every tree, stripped the bark from for all the poles, steamed the wood and convinced DIYode to purchase an industrial sewing machine so they could sew the canvas for their walls.
The model they have chosen to distribute the fruits of their labour is a model called a CSA - A Community Supported Agriculture. If you're familiar with the smaller farming world, you know that there is a lot of risk that a small farmers takes when growing food, weather being the biggest risk - lack of rain, too much rain, frost, and hail to name a few. Most small farmers cannot afford the astronomical costs associated with farming insurance.
What I love about the CSA model is the relationship that it builds between the purchaser and the farmer. You sign up and pay for a share at the beginning of the season which gives you a box of weekly ripe and fresh produce. You pick it up directly from the farmer who typically comes into town to a centralize drop off location. Picture this: you pick up your box, have a chat with the farmer or other CSA members, and connect deeper with where your food comes from. Ahh... community.
You're also joining in on the risk with the farmer. Farming is risky business. Typically, a farmer will dish out a huge amount of money at the beginning of the season to put in seed, pay for the gas in the tractor, spend from dawn to dusk giving tender, loving care to their bounty, and providing that a hail storm doesn't destroy the crop in one foul swoop or a drought doesn't come, they can hopefully sell all of their produce at a local market or whatnot in the late summer - autumn. That is a long time to not make a pay cheque. With the CSA model, the farmer is guaranteed to make some profit because you are paying up front. The risk for the member comes where you may or may not receive as much food as originally thought, just like when investing in the stock market. Should the stock market crash, bye-bye retirement. Of course the farmer does everything in their power to give you the best produce possible, but they cannot predict weather. I've been apart of a CSA for two seasons, and had such a positive experience with it.
What I find to be most inspiring about Erin, Andrew, Beth and Seb, is that they're just doing it. They have a passion for sustainability and that includes their own well-being. Refusing to get themselves into piles of dept purchasing land, they creatively put their heads together to come up with a solution that is affordable and gives them the lives they have been dreaming of.