The snow is finally disappearing and the weather warming up, inviting thoughts of summer. As you think about how to spend all those long, warm summer days, here’s one thing for you to consider: participating in one of Edmonton’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs.
Community Supported Agriculture connects local farmers with local consumers in a way that is mutually beneficial. Consumers enjoy a regular supply of fresh, local produce, gain awareness about the food growing process, and get to know one of their local farmers. Farmers appreciate getting to know their customers, and can benefit from having guaranteed consumers for their product and a source of income at the beginning of the growing season.
Subscribers to a CSA farm pay the full amount for their seasonal supply of goods at the beginning of the season. As a result, consumers run the risk of not receiving the all the goods they paid for if their farmer experiences a bad season. On the other hand, farmers benefit enormously from receiving payments at the beginning of the season because it gives them the resources they need to purchase supplies for their growing season. There are also more intangible benefits that arise when consumers invest in their local farms. By paying upfront, consumers become interested in the growing process, and develop a keen awareness of the risks inherent in farming. Their investment also strengthens their bond with their farmer, as consumers and farmers together hope for a bumper crop. CSA programs help local farms succeed and teach people about food production.
Edmonton’s Community Supported Agriculture farms offer a variety of goods and service options to their subscribers. Below are short descriptions of some the Edmonton area’s CSA programs; they are meant to give you an idea of the work these CSAs are doing, but I encourage you to see their websites for more information.
On Borrowed Ground is an Edmonton CSA that operates out of several backyards, rather than on a single farm. This summer, there are 10 separate gardens participating in On Borrowed Ground. In addition to paying upfront, subscribers to On Borrowed Ground work hours in the garden in exchange for their produce. On Borrowed Ground aims to make good use of Edmonton’s land and soil and to educate participants on how to garden.
Good Note Community Farm, located 20km southeast of Edmonton, also offers people the chance to participate in the growing process. The goal behind their offer is to help people become more involved with the food growing process. In addition to allowing two CSA farmers to use their land, they rent plots of land to anyone interested in growing food. You can also get a share in their strawberries, raspberries, and saskatoons if you help weed their plots. In addition to garden space and berries, Good Note Community farm has fruit trees, chickens, cows, and goats.
Prairie Gardens and Adventure Farm in Bon Accord offers a weekly subscription of seasonal vegetables and berries from June to September 15. Subscribers can pick up their vegetables at the farm every Sunday between 12 and 6 pm, and are welcome to explore the farm when they visit. This year Prairie Gardens has added a u-pick feature to their program that allows subscribers to pick produce that is growing in abundant amounts for no extra cost. Prairie Gardens also has a city pick up location at Range Road Dinners Restaurant Parking Lot 10643 – 123 St, but they ask subscribers who choose this option to contribute to the cost of transporting produce to this location. Prairie Gardens plans to wrap up their season with a fall picnic on Sept. 15. They also have kids’ festivals on Easter, Canada Day, and Halloween.
Greens, Eggs, and Ham Futures CSA in Leduc operates year-round. In addition to growing a variety of vegetables, this CSA farm has several free range poultry products, including ducks, duck eggs, geese, turkeys, and Cornish game hens. They also have a flexible delivery program, allowing you to bank deliveries while you are on vacation and claim them later. Subscribers are also able to choose their produce, rather than receiving a prepared package. Greens, Eggs, and Ham benefits from the CSA program and its pay upfront agreement. In return for your support, they can offer you a variety of local goods in a flexible format.
Riverbend Gardens is another one of Edmonton’s Community Supported Agriculture farms; for a full description of their program, you can refer to my previous post about their farm at
Edmonton’s Community Supported Agriculture farms fulfill the aims of CSA through their commitment to providing both fresh produce and educational opportunities. You can honour their efforts and freshen up your summer by subscribing to one of them today!
For more information on Edmonton’s Community Supported Agriculture farms, you can visit the Community Supported Agriculture in Alberta website http://www.csaalberta.com
Or you can visit the CSAs individual webpages:
On Borrowed Ground in Edmonton: www.onborrowedground.com
Good Note Community farm, Edmonton: http://www.goodnote.ca/
Prairie Gardens and Adventure Farm in Bon Accord http://www.csaalberta.com/prairie-gardens-bon-accord.html
Greens, Eggs, and Ham Futures CSA in Leduc: http://www.greenseggsandham.ca/index.php?w=1304
Riverbend Gardens, Edmonton: www.riverbendgardens.ca.
For a fuller description of Community Supported Agriculture, you can refer to Local Harvest’s page on Community Supported Agriculture (http://www.localharvest.org/csa/) or the David Suzuki Foundation’s Page on CSAs (http://www.davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/queen-of-green/faqs/food/what-are-community-supported-agriculture-farms/?gclid=CLuXkMStk7YCFcdxQgodC2QAYg)