The New York Times reports that more and more people are buying shares of small farms, mostly on the coasts and around the Great Lakes region, which guarantee them a percentage of the season’s harvest. This “community-supported agriculture” model has exploded from fewer than 100 farms in the early 90s to nearly 1,500 in recent years. Helping out is optional, although we’re not sure the real farmers would appreciate our constant bitching about being in the sun. (I worked summers hoeing cotton fields in Texas, which is partly why I moved to NYC.)
Some of the farms highlighted in the article show the diversity of goods you can invest in, including flowers, fruits and veggies, and even grass-fed beef:
The Golden Earthworm Organic Farm, on 80 acres on the North Fork of Long Island, grew from 10 members in 2000 to about 1,300 this year, according to Matthew Kurek, one of the owners. About half of the members live in Queens, he said, and the farm delivers their weekly shares to six different sites there, mainly churches and community centers, 26 weeks a year. The farm grows arugula, strawberries and sugar snap peas in the spring; watermelon, eggplant and tomatoes in the summer; and broccoli, potatoes and carrots in the fall.
At the Cattleana Ranch in Omro, Wis., Thomas and Susan Wrchota offer grass-fed meat and organic produce through a community-supported arrangement. They have 55 members, and a seven-month meat membership costs $715.
Don’t expect to save money on these memberships, warns the article—the people who do it are looking for verifiable organic food, or want to help participate in sustainable agriculture, or just want to get their hands dirty.
Some shareholders said they found the arrangement a bargain compared to grocery shopping, while others considered it a worthwhile indulgence. Most agreed that the urge to buy and spend locally — to avoid the costs and environmental degradation that come with shipping and storage — was behind the decision to join. Shareholders can pick up their goods at the farm or at a store across the street.
“Shoppers Buy Slices of Farms “ [New York Times]