There is a cool new way for you to shop for groceries here in Florence. I got my email today informing me that the Pee Dee CSA is now accepting orders for shares on this year's crops.
What is a CSA? It stands for Community Supported Agriculture and it is a creation that connects farmers directly with consumers in an effort to strengthen local food systems. The idea originated in Japan in the 1960s and had spread to European countries by the 1970s as people became concerned with the industrialization their food systems. Basically, people buy shares in the CSA. This does three main things. First, it spreads the risk of each crop among all shareholders, alleviating much of the financial concern small local farmers face. Second, it provides money for the upfront costs these farmers have to actual get the seed in the ground and to care for the land and crop. Finally, this easing of the financial burden allows the farmers to concentrate on tending their crops, land and livestock, resulting in greater care that comes through in the quality of the product.
We are very lucky here in the Florence area to have several local farmers who are very active in promoting organic farming and are even luckier that they are pitching in to get this Pee Dee CSA up and running. All vegetables will be grown from Dickson's Organics Farm in Timmonsville, SC. The Pee Dee CSA in unique because in addition to vegetables, Charlie Caldwell of Ovis Hill Farm and John Rogers of Hill Creek Farm have joined the project and are offering Beef, Lamb and Chicken shares.
If you've ever purchased any of the produce or meat, chicken and lamb from the Farmers Market in the Naturally Outdoors parking lot on Saturdays, then you know the quality of this stuff. If you have not, then you are missing some of the best food stock you can get in the area.
The first shares are scheduled to be delivered MAY 2ND, so if you're interested, you're a little under the gun. Unfortunately, given the wide variety of options, it took the CSA a while to come up with a price structure that worked and the best way to offer that variety through a share system.
The way it works, is you buy a full or half share of what you want for the season, and then each Saturday from May 2nd until October 21, you go to the Farmers Market at Naturally Outdoors between 10 am and 1 pm and pick up your fresh, organic goodies. In addition to getting great, healthy food at reasonable prices, you are also helping the environment. These farmers don't use chemicals and pesticides in growing these crops or tending their stocks. They also leave very small carbon footprints. And when you eat local, you cut out much of the energy that is wasted through the packing and shipping of the inventory that fills our local grocery stores. Two friends of mine recently went a year with eating nothing but local food and they are involved in organizing the Pee Dee CSA. They were featured in the Florence Morning News and had a blog that was updated regularly while their project was going on: The Carolina Food Project. If you are interested in eating locally and organically, check it out.
Share prices are as follows:
Vegetable: Full $600, Half $350
Beef: $560, $290
Lamb: $230, $120
Chicken: $200, $110
Beef Poultry combo: $300, $160
If you would like an information sheet and an order form, please send a request to PeeDeeCSA@gmail.com