This month marks our one year anniversary as Ben’s Produce! We are thankful for the support of everyone that has helped make Ben’s Produce possible: all those on and around Sasser Street, our long time friends and family who support us with everything we do, Peace China, Double-T Farm, Two Trees Farm, a number of folks from the NC State Sociology department, our CSA members, the Western Wake Farmer’s Market, Bickett Market, Market Restaurant, and Angelina’s Kitchen (for more info about some of these supporters, please refer to the links on the left side of your screen). We couldn’t have done or continue doing this without all of you! Thank you SO very much. We are sincerely honored and grateful to have you in our lives.
On a related note, today one of our CSA members and friends sent Ben and I a link to an article in the News and Observer. You can access the article here. Basically, the article talked about produce box delivery programs in the area – that they’re more convenient than going to the farmers’ market or picking up for a CSA. While I do think that these programs have their advantages, I think they risk trading community for convenience. The article prompted me to write a letter to the editor – the first I’ve ever written. These letters have a word count maximum of 200 words – and as I’m sure you well know by now, I have difficulties being brief 🙂 – but I managed. Here’s what I wrote (190 words):
While CSA may be inconvenient in comparison to produce delivery, it does provide for more transparency, community building, and mutually beneficial relationships – BEYOND consumer/seller relationships. As a very small farm (we grow on less than one acre) without bank loans or credit cards, the CSA model allows us to grow healthy food for our community. Members’ early monetary contributions (there is a payment plan) are what enable us to purchase essential farm materials. This farm box model may work well for people who already have the funding to purchase the goods they need on the farm. But this model also means food travels farther and people don’t get to know their farmers. I strongly believe that CSA should and does create community. While this farm box business does create a valuable service for consumers, we hope our CSA does more than that – albeit a little less conveniently. I hope this trend doesn’t mean an end to CSA. I also hope it doesn’t mean the local movement will be co-opted by corporations (as has happened with organic). This middle man business sounds a lot like “business as usual” to me.
I’m curious to hear what y’all think. What kinds of food experiences do you find to be the most rewarding? Do you feel a sense of community when you go to the farmer’s market or when you go to your CSA pick up? What suggestions do you have for CSAs and for Ben’s Produce more specifically for improving community?
We would like to offer a farm dinner to our CSA members. I am not sure when we’ll be able to do this. We are still sharing our living space with Beth and the kids (the farm house construction is taking WAY longer than anticipated). We would like to be settled in before we attempt to host a dinner – so it may not happen for another month or two. I suppose it may not happen at all this year – but if that’s the case, we’ll be certain to do one as soon as the weather (and the harvest) permits next year. I know I enjoy home cooked dinners with new and old friends alike. Of course, if we offer a large scale dinner, we might have to enlist the help of you all in the form of a pot luck (but we would certainly provide most of the food). And sharing is always nice :).
Please respond here with your comments or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would very much appreciate your feedback – members and non-members alike.
As usual, thanks for stopping by!