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Case Study > CSA for a Local Geographer

CSA for a Local Geographer

Dr. Jessica Kelly

Dr. Jessica Kelly is a member of Goodwill at Homefields Farm, a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group that is a convenient way for her to cut costs, both personally and environmentally, while eating healthy, organic produce. Dr. Kelly participates as a shareholder, in which she purchases all-organic produce locally which helps minimize the pollutant effects of transporting produce from across the country as well as transportation costs, and avoids the use of pesticides or artificial fertilizers that can harm the consumer as well as the farmers who use these growing methods. Goodwill at Homefields Farm gives Dr. Kelly the peace-of-mind in knowing where her food is coming from and knowing that it is safe to eat for herself and her family. Better yet, Dr. Kelly can pick up her produce right on her way home from work. As a shareholder at Goodwill at Homefields Farm, Dr. Kelly exhibits a “Deeper Shade of Green.”

Jessica Kelly shopping

Get to Know the Professor

Community Supported Agriculture

Goodwill

Homefields Incorporated

Goodwill at Homefields Farm

Organic Blogging

Other Types of CSA's

Suggestions from the Professor

How to Become a Member

Conclusion

Contact Information

 

Get to Know the Professor

It is important to understand the people that are members of Goodwill at Homefields Farm. Dr. Jessica Kelly is an assistant professor at Millersville University of Pennsylvania. She teaches geography with a focus on environmental policies. Some topics that Dr. Kelly will touch on within the classroom include women’s decisions about land use in tropical countries, forestry issues, and land use and management for livelihood. Dr. Kelly has recently experienced her first season as a member and an enthused shareholder at Goodwill at Homefields Farm.

WHY GOODWILL AT HOMEFIELDS FARM?

When Dr. Kelly moved to the Millersville area, she searched for a local organic farmer. Never a member of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group before, she first became aware of Goodwill at Homefields Farm in 2008. Goodwill at Homefields Farm was appealing to Dr. Kelly because it is conveniently located on her route home from work at Millersville University. Although she missed the cut-off for buying a share in 2008, Dr. Kelly became a member of Goodwill at Homefields Farm during this past 2009 season.

REASONS FOR JOINING A CSA:

  • Lifestyle - Dr. Kelly’s family background and lifestyle greatly influenced her interest in CSA’s in general, as well as eating organically. She grew up in a rural environment with a family that harvested its own agriculture. Dr. Kelly has always eaten and lived her life in a way that today can be conveyed as a healthy lifestyle; mainly because it was cheaper while growing up to eat her family’s own produce. Following her natural instincts, Dr. Kelly took part in buying organic food from a farmer’s market while in college, but found the travel to and from the market to be very inconvenient. Therefore, when looking to buy organic food in the Millersville area, convenience was an important factor.

  • Benefits - Dr. Kelly currently lives with her husband. By purchasing a half share at Goodwill at Homefields Farm, she is provided with enough produce to fulfill her and her husband’s needs each week, while not wasting any food. As the organic enthusiast within the couple, Dr. Kelly is able to have her personal organic-fill throughout the week while also incorporating organic foods into her and her husband’s meals.

  • Health - Dr. Kelly believes that eating organic produce is a way for her to remain healthy and live a healthy lifestyle. Since Goodwill at Homefields Farm does not use any pesticides or artificial fertilizers, she is confident and trustworthy that she is eating the healthiest type of produce. Dr. Kelly is also able to help her husband lead a healthy lifestyle by bringing organic produce into their home. On top of keeping her and her husband healthy, Dr. Kelly could not be happier that she chose this lifestyle especially since she is pregnant with her first child.

ORGANIC VS. SUPERMARKET:

Do you still shop for produce at a supermarket? Yes, Dr. Kelly does still buy produce at a supermarket. Local farmers must compete with major food distributors to obtain consumer loyalty (Evans, 2008). Being a member of Goodwill at Homefields Farm is a huge supplement to what can be bough at a supermarket. Each season’s produce costs a shareholder about $17 per week. The supermarket is double that price. Each season’s produce may not be exactly what a shareholder wants; therefore Dr. Kelly will buy from the supermarket what she did not receive that season or week at Goodwill at Homefields Farm.

THE VIEWS OF AN ORGANIC BUYER:

In a world today that has taken a focus on environmental sustainability, Dr. Kelly believes that she is not part of the “going green” process. She has tended toward making healthy food choices throughout her entire life, and would never go as far as considering herself an “activist” in the sustainable effort. As far as “going green”, Dr. Kelly mainly focuses on eating all-organic. She is not against other methods or lifestyle choices but has not found herself falling in step with the many up-and-coming ways to go green. Dr. Kelly is satisfied in teaching her college students about environmental efforts within the classroom. Although she never pushes her lifestyle upon others, it is always nice to hear that her students have started to live their own lives in a healthier manner.

As a member of Goodwill at Homefields Farm Dr. Kelly has stated that, “It gives me the peace-of-mind in knowing where my food comes from without having to grow it myself.”

 

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

Community Supported Agriculture consists of a group of people in which each member is a shareholder of a farm’s produce.

Farmers normally take a risk each year when they plant their crops. A single farmer normally puts his or her money up front, and if a crop does not do well that season the farmer personally loses that money. As part of a CSA, shareholders put money toward that risk. Therefore, instead of one farmer suffering a huge loss if a crop does not do well, each shareholder only suffers a small amount of loss (ex: a possible loss of $10 for each shareholder).

The CSA farmer decides on which crops to plant each season. The season’s planning is based upon the number of shareholders and whether they purchase a full or half share. A full share is enough food for four. Maybe five people per week, while a half share provides food for two people per week. Each week the produce is divided equally among shareholders, according to their type of share, and can be picked up at the location of the CSA, usually the farm.

 

Goodwill

Goodwill is an international industry that believes that every person should have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential. Goodwill helps to enhance the quality of life for individuals, families, and communities through the “power of work” (Goodwill Industries, 2009). With a value system based on respect, stewardship, ethics, learning, and innovation, Goodwill strives to earn people employment opportunities through workforce development services and employment training programs (Goodwill Industries, 2009).

 

Homefields Incorporated

In 1991, parents and professionals of Lancaster County gathered to discuss the safety and well-being of adults with mental retardation and other disabilities within their families and community. These people expressed “a desire for a financially secure, long-term home in a safe, family-like setting where there is respect for the individual in a holistic sense, and where fun and creativity are revered as basic human needs” (Homefields Inc., 2009). Three years later, an eight-acre farm in Millersville, Pennsylvania became the location of three resident buildings for those with mental retardation or other disabilities. The farm allowed “year-round projects” that offered the residents new opportunities for employment and a chance to live as independently as possible (Homefields Inc., 2009).

From the determination of these families, a training program developed, helping residents to learn the agricultural process by working on the farm right outside the front door of these resident homes.

 

Goodwill at Homefields Farm

Goodwill at Homefields Farm is the location and home to Lancaster County family members with mental retardation and other disabilities. With the help of the residents, Goodwill at Homefields farm is able to “preserve, develop, and enhance its beautiful property and environment for the sake of sharing with others” (Homefields, 2009).

Goodwill at Homefields Farm has blossomed into a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group that provides members with freshly harvested and organic food by practicing a sustainable growing process. With its first growing season dating back to 2000. Goodwill at Homefields Farm is now in its 10th season (Goodwill, 2009).

Members of Goodwill at Homefields Farm purchase seasonal shares. A season lasts from June to mid November, in which members pick up their share of produce once a week, Thursday to Saturday.

Goodwill at Homefields Farm is mostly vegetarian, while just beginning to implement fruit, such as berries, into their shares.

Upon arrival to Goodwill at Homefields Farm, shareholders sign-in and then revert to chalk boards on the wall that state how much of each produce (by weight) a shareholder may obtain for that week depending on their type of share. Each week the produce is cleaned and placed in bins, located just below these chalkboards, for shareholders to gather and weigh their portions.

Shareholders may sometimes harvest their own crops, depending on the season or week’s share. These crops, titled “Pick Your Own”, would be too tedious for the few staff members at Goodwill at Homefields Farm to pick for every shareholder. Therefore, shareholders can pick their own share of these crops, and as much as they like, when available. No pest control is used at Goodwill at Homefields Farm; therefore shareholders should be aware that bees or other bugs may be a nuisance while in the fields.

At Goodwill at Homefields Farm, a shareholder may leave behind a type of produce at any time if they do not want a certain type that week. However, a shareholder may never take more than their equal part. If people decide not to take the full amount of their share and leftovers remain, the leftovers are normally given to a local soup kitchen.

LOCAL, ORGANIC AND CHEAP

Eliminate transportation damages and costs:

The majority of food sold within U.S. markets must travel long distance, and the farther food travels the shorter its shelf life (Evans, 2008). Some CSA’s will even deliver their food from a farm to another location in which the shareholders can then obtain their share. However, ALL Goodwill at Homefields Farm’s produce is grown right at the farm’s Millersville, Pa. location. By growing the produce right on location transportation damages and costs can be almost eliminated, while making obtaining produce convenient for shareholders. “Buying food locally helps keep carbon monoxide emissions from vehicles down because of the reduced miles farmers travel,” (Evans, 2008). Besides shareholders needing to drive to the farm’s location to pick up their shares, the only transportation used in the farming process are small farm vehicles, which transport produce from the farm to the cleaning and pick-up area.

No Pesticides, No artificial fertilizers:

As an all-organic farm, Goodwill at Homefields Farm prides itself on its choice to avoid any pesticides, artificial fertilizers, or the use of any other chemicals that may affect the growing process. By doing so, the farm is able to produce healthier, more nutritious food that lasts longer and tastes better. Healthy soil is promoted through crop rotation, cover crops, beneficial insect habitat, and the use of compost. Shareholders as well as foundations such as The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, may donate compost to be used as a cover crop. A cover crop helps to enrich the farm’s soil, while also fending off any wild life or pests that may try to eat the farm’s crops (Goodwill at Homefields Farm CSA, 2009).

Types of Produce:

It is up to the farmer to decide which of the 45 types of organically grown fruits, vegetables and herbs will be planted each season (Goodwill, 2009). Goodwill at Homefields Farm tries to vary the types of crops they produce throughout the seasons and find a good balance in order to meet the needs and wants of shareholders in a fair way. A shareholder does not receive the same amount or type of food each week. A season typically begins with fewer and lighter weight items (lettuce, green mixes, strawberries), then increases in mid-summer (watermelon, cantaloupes, peppers), and ends with bulkier, heavier items in the fall (pumpkins, squash, cabbage, potatoes) (Goodwill, 2009).

“Pick Your Own” crops are specialty items such as flowers and herbs. When strawberries and blueberries are in season they are included in the share price, however other types of berries are available at an extra cost.

Local organic products such as meats, cheese, and dairy products were offered at one time through Goodwill at Homefields Farm. However, due to a lack of interest these products are not currently offered.

Appealing to Members:

Goodwill at Homefields Farm goes beyond selling organic produce to its members. The farm’s members may sign-up to receive weekly emails with recipes or ways to experiment with different types of cooking of recent crops. Emails are usually sent out the Wednesday before produce can be picked up or the Thursday of pick-up. Email alerts are also received if the farmer has decided to try something new throughout the season.

For more ways to appeal to members check out the list of FAQs at Goodwill at Homefields Farm: Frequently Asked Questions!

 

Organic Blogging

In order to meet the needs of its clients, Goodwill at Homefields Farm has created three websites. Homefields.org is the farm’s main website, which gives information, such as history and current information about Goodwill at Homefields and Goodwill at Homefields Farm. The blog, goodwillathomefieldsfarm.blogspot.com, is titled “Notes From the Farm.” This blog is dedicated to keeping shareholders up to date with what is going on at the farm throughout the June to November season. This blog is also informative by teacher the shareholders about their produce, while also giving recipes. This blog contains posts only from the staff of Goodwill at Homefields Farm. Below are a couple popular topics obtained from this Goodwill at Homefields Farm blog:

About Some of the Characters

  • Shunkgiku: these sweet and mild greens are tasty in a salad or added to soups and stir-fries at the last minute to prevent overcooking.

  • Watermelon Radish: beautiful, crisp and fairly sweet for a radish

  • Parsnip: roast with other root vegetables, simple to add to stews and soups, beef stew etc.

  • Collards: a nutritional phytonutrient powerhouse and loaded with calcium. De-stem, chop and sauté with oil and garlic and serve as a side and see recipe below.

  • Arugula: a nutty, sort of spicy green--great addition to any salad

  • Greens: discard the stems or ribs, and use the leaves sautéed with olive oil, garlic, onion, soy sauce etc.

  • Cauliflower: see the recipe below for roasted cauliflower

Roasted Cauliflower

If you've never fully appreciated cauliflower, this recipe is especially for you.

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower

  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled and coarsely minced

  • Lemon juice (from 1/2 or a whole lemon)

  • Olive oil

  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Parmesan cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut cauliflower into florets and put in a single layer in an oven-proof baking dish. Toss in the garlic. Squeeze lemon juice over cauliflower and drizzle each piece with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. If the oven hasn't reached 400°F yet, set aside until it has.

  2. Place casserole in the hot oven, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is lightly brown. Test with a fork for desired doneness. Fork tines should be able to easily pierce the cauliflower. Remove from oven and sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately. --from simplyrecipes.com

A second blog, goodwillathomefieldsfarmcsa.blogspot.com, gives shareholders a chance to talk back. By the staff at Goodwill at Homefields Farm posting photos and captions, they appeal to shareholders and encourage its members to share their feelings toward the season’s produce and the farm in general.

 

Other Types of CSA’s

There are several other types of CSA’s besides organic produce. People can become members of more than one CSA at a time. However, it is unusual for a location or area to be home for more than one type. Goodwill at Homefields Farm is the only CSA in the Millersville, Pa. location. However, other interesting and available types of CSA’s are below:

  1. Meat – Meat CSA’s have a focus on raising their animals in a humane and respectful manner. A holistic approach to raising animals yields better tasting and more nutritious meats. By the animals being grass-fed and pasteurized, meat and poultry remains free of hormones (Stillman, 2009). Although some meat CSA’s have weekly pick-ups, normally shareholders in a strictly-meat CSA would pick up their portions based on a period of months (ex: every six months), instead of the more frequent pick-up of produce.

  2. Eggs – Chickens, or any egg layers, on the farm of an egg CSA are ensured fresh pasture and are allowed to roam outdoors, unlike many farms in which egg layers must remain inside their pens at all time. Egg CSA’s believe that the sunshine and exercise that these egg layers are allowed provides nutritional benefits while also changing the look and feel of eggs for the better (Weathertop).

  3. Fruit – Members of a fruit CSA are given the opportunity to enjoy fresh fruit that has not been altered to make it last longer than it is naturally inclined to, nor does it require fossil fuels for storage, packing, and shipment. Tree fruits such as peaches, pairs and apples are commonly distributed on fruit CSA’s (Fitz, 2008).

 

Suggestions from the Professor

  • “Buying local is better” – One of the main goals of a CSA is to cut the transportation damages and costs caused by shipping produce across country. It is best to find a CSA that is local in order to cut your own transportation costs as well as the costs to the environment. If there is not a CSA in your local area, find the nearest one. However, if driving to the nearest CSA is doing damage to your gas tank, it might be more reasonable to buy your produce from a supermarket that contains an organic section.

  • “Learn as you go” – Before someone can take the step to eating organically, or taking any green initiative, they must first do some research. No one is expected to know everything about a CSA before getting involved. It is a 'learn as you go' process. Dr. Kelly has experienced one season so far as a member of Goodwill at Homefields Farm and was making new discoveries each week; and this is a person who grew up producing her own food. From the different recipes she learned for cooking to the ways in which she discovered her food had been grown on the farm, Dr. Kelly was constantly being educated. The staff at Goodwill at Homefields Farm is always ready to answer questions and help the members become more comfortable as CSA shareholders. If you are not ready to become a shareholder at a CSA, try buying organic from farmers markets, grocers, restaurants, bakers, cafés, and caterers who sell locally grown farm products. Farmers and vendors eliminate the middle-man by selling directly to consumers, saving you money (Evans, 2008).

  • “Production is approximate to consumption” – It is important to become involved with a CSA that fits your needs and does not go overboard. Yes, it may be appealing if a CSA is offering double the amount in shares but in the end too much food can be wasted. Wasting food is just one way to defeat the purpose of supporting sustainability.

  • “Environmental damages are done from expending” – Expending is the process of using up something or consuming. Being involved with a CSA helps some people cut-back on over consuming. With a set amount of produce each week, members do not over spend or buy too much produce at the supermarket that most of the time is wasted.

  • Family Environment - The environment at Goodwill at Homefields Farm is cheerful and friendly, creating a family-like atmosphere. Shareholders are able to get to know one another and also the staff members and farm manager. Although Dr. Kelly does not have any children of her own just yet, she believes Goodwill at Homefields Farm can be a fun, enjoyable experience for the whole family. Children can become educated on agriculture and crop production. Especially through the “Pick Your Own” process, children are able to step into the fields and learn where their food comes from, which can help develop healthy eating habits they can use in the future. An average “Pick Your Own” process takes about 30 minutes for Dr. Kelly to complete, so parents, be aware that it may take more time with small children.

  • “It takes so many people to give a message” – If you want to do good deeds for the environment, that’s great! However, it is important to start small. With the numerous “going green” fads that are developing it is easy to get wrapped up in wanting to save the world. Take a step back and realize that by you becoming involved in every fad does not change the world in one day. Test out the different sustainability or environmental efforts and see which ones you like best. It is more beneficial to be dedicated to one or two efforts instead of spreading yourself too thin among many others.

  • Not just produce – Although Dr. Kelly finds the majority of environmentally friendly efforts to be beneficial, for now she is sticking with organic produce. It is important to Dr. Kelly to become involved with these efforts only if they comfortably fit into her lifestyle.

Making environmentally healthy choices is part of Dr. Kelly’s daily life and she is an example that making these decisions do not have to change one’s life drastically.

Dr. Kelly had mentioned that if she should move out of the Millersville area she would look for another local CSA in order to remain a dedicated organic produce buyer. For now, however, Dr. Kelly remains a happy member of the Goodwill at Homefields Farm family.

 

How to Become a Member

MEMBERS AS SHAREHOLDERS:

Anyone can become a shareholder as long as they complete a brief application and send Goodwill at Homefields Farm the payment for their share prior to the beginning of the season in June. Goodwill at Homefields Farm must take into account that it can only accept as many shareholders each season so that each shareholder receives their requested full or half share each week and throughout the season.

Members of Goodwill at Homefields Farm do not have to live within the Millersville area. Residents of Lancaster City are common as members since all-organic farms are somewhat unusual. However, one of the main benefits of becoming involved with a local organic farm is that it is convenient and cuts transportation damages and costs. Therefore, it is suggested that when searching for an organic farm to become involved with, to first search local.

The produce at Goodwill at Homefields Farm is only available to its shareholders. Therefore, the farm’s produce is not sold to the public.

STEPS TO BECOMING A SHAREHOLDER:

Send payment or minimum of $50 deposit to: Goodwill at Homefields Farm, PO Box 38, Millersville, PA 17551

Designate share size:

Full Share (intended for a family of four) $650/season ($27/week)

Half Share (intended for 2 individuals) $415/season ($17/week)

Provide you contact information: Name, Address, Phone, Email

DONATE:

I cannot participate as a farm shareholder, but I would to like to offer a tax-deductible gift of:

“SEARCHING FOR THE PERFECT HOLIDAY GIFT?”

Although the produce grown on Goodwill at Homefields Farm is not available to the public, gift boxes are sold to all. Lancaster County gift boxes are sold during the holidays which include coffee from College Coffee Roasters, Wilbur Buds, Kitchen Kettle Village fruit butters, and S. Clyde Weaver honey graham pretzels. Small boxes cost $17.50 and large boxes cost $25.95. All proceeds benefit the Goodwill at Homefields Farm Program that provides horticultural and agricultural employment opportunities to adults with special needs.

 

Conclusion

By becoming part of the Goodwill at Homefields Farm CSA, a person is choosing to live a healthier lifestyle without the drastic effects. There is no pressure. You can apply for a share one season and take a year off if you would like. The biggest reward of becoming involved is that you are welcomed into the family-like environment, while becoming educated. Members get to know one another, the staff, and also the residents living and working on the farm. As a shareholder, or even just a donator, you are helping to sustain not only a beautiful farm but also a financially-secure and safe environment for the residents. Not convinced yet? Then come out to Millersville, Pa. and visit Goodwill at Homefields Farm today!

 

Contact Information

Goodwill at Homefields Farm is located at: 150 Letort Road Millersville, Pa 17551 717-871-3110

Just a few blocks away from the Millersville University campus!

Have any questions? Send an email to Goodwill at Homefields Farm.

 


This site was created by Rachel Wengert (Stacey.Irwin@millersville.edu) who is a student at Millersville University of Pennsylvania

© 2009 Millersville University. All Rights Reserved.

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