Along with getting local food to the SUNY New Paltz campus and creating a campus food garden, Students for Sustainable Agriculture has been helping to launch a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project called Binnewater Farm Project located in Rosendale, N.Y. The heavy snowfall this past weekend caused the farm to reschedule garlic planting on the site which was supposed to take place with the help of S.F.S.A on Oct. 29.
Members of Binnewater Farm Project have leased the 10 acre area from the Legacy Farm Co-housing property, an “intentional neighborhood” where “residents are consciously committed to living as a community,” according to the Legacy Farm website.
Community supported agriculture allows for residents of a community to become familiar with their local farmers. Those interested in purchasing produce from a CSA pay an annual fee and at the beginning of each week receive a share of the crop. Both the farmers and consumers who purchase shares of the crop are susceptible to the risks of farming. By paying in advance, farmers will gain some financial stability if a crop is destroyed by bad weather or pests, said the Binnewater Farm website.
Dan Guenther, consultant for Binnewater Farms, said Students for Sustainable Agriculture get involved after fourth-year geography major, and member of S.F.S.A Jared Pazienza attended some of the initial meetings to start the CSA in February 2011.
Guenther, who has been a farmer and farm consultant for 20 years, helped create some of the CSA’s in the Hudson Valley including Brook Farm Project and Phillies Bridge Farm. He inspired Legacy Farm Co-housing to start the project because it provides benefits not only to the co-housing property but to Rosendale and communities nearby. Guenther believes society needs to revisit farming practices prevalent before processed food became a large source of sustenance.
“We no longer can afford to separate ourselves from the source of our food,” Guenther said. “Food that is supposed to be sustaining us is actually killing us.”
Pazienza was a “key-player” in getting the student group involved with the project, Guenther said. Guenther has worked with S.F.S.A since its inception and has helped students learn more about organic food production. When Pazienza wanted to intern at a local CSA he contacted Guenther who directed him to the Binnewater Farm Project.
Pazienza feels that volunteering on this farm has helped not only the Rosendale community but has fostered an important relationship between sustenance and the body.
“Our society’s food production system is not right and [CSA’s] are a good way to get people accustomed to knowing the people who grow their food,” Pazienza said. “It gives you a real feeling of connection with your food which is generally lost in our society.”
The students have been helping to cut cedar trees to create fence posts, plant vegetables and will soon take on the task of repairing and refurbishing the barns located on the land.
Dimitri Galitzine, member of Legacy Farm Co-housing and head of the farming committee, appreciates all of the work the students have put into making his vision a reality.
“It’s been a terrific connection,” Galitzine said. “They have been helping a lot and they will continue to help.”
Galitzine always thought about creating a CSA since joining Legacy Farms Co-housing.
“It was always in our mission statement to promote or develop sustainable agriculture and to use a portion of the property to preserve farming land in the area,” Galitzine said.
Binnewater Farm is the first CSA in Rosendale. Galitzine hopes that Binnewater Farm Project will not only provide organic food grown locally but will also educate younger generations on the importance of eating healthy.
“What we’re hoping to gain is basically to create a community organization which can at the same time provide healthy local farm products for the community of Rosendale,” Galitzine said. “We are also very interested in sort of running educational programs and teaching the kids in the area where their food comes from and what is the difference between healthy food and garbage food.”
Fourth-year geography major and Co-president of S.F.S.A Angela DeVivo, enjoys the democratic decision-making that is being employed to create and sustain this CSA.
“While we are just helping out, this project is exciting to us because it is a) community run, with open meetings being held to help make major decisions and b) it is new and available for us to help along the way and learn from as well,” DeVivo said.
Rosendale resident Emma Kreyche has been a member of several CSA’s in the Hudson valley and was happy to hear that she would be able to help her community start and sustain a model for food production that she loves.
“CSA’s are a great way for communities to lessen their dependence on industrial agriculture and build a more just and ecologically sustainable food system,” Kreyche said. “There isn’t much agriculture land in Rosendale, so when I heard that the co-housing group wanted to start a farm on their land, I was very excited to get involved with the project.”
Binnewater Farm Project will be up and running in spring 2012. According to Galitzine, lettuce, salad greens, and garlic scapes will be the first vegetables available to the CSA’s members. They are hoping to incorporate chickens for eggs and other produce as the farm expands.
Anyone can volunteer to help with the farm and can visit www.binnewaterfarm.org for more information.
Though CSA’s are created to provide people with healthy and organic local food, Kreyche stresses the importance of using these farms to realize that relying on community is an effective way to solve large scale problems.
“It’s also about building a community’s capacity to feed itself during a time of economic uncertainty and changing climatic conditions,” Kreyche said. “It’s about finding local solutions to global problems.”