Boulder is a bastion of Community Supported Agriculture.
In CSA, people skip the grocery store for many of the fresh foods on their list. Instead they sign up for a farm membership, paying money in the winter to help fund a specific growing operation and then enjoying the fresh produce week by week throughout the harvest season.
Currently Boulder Valley has more than 45 working CSAs, cultivating everything from vegetables to fruits, meat, honey, wine and cheese.
Growing Gardens offers a particularly creative twist on CSA. Through its ¡Cultiva! Youth Project, Growing Gardens engages young people, ages 12-19, to cultivate organic produce throughout the growing season. The fruits of their labor are harvested and prepared weekly for Cultiva CSA members to pick up.
The program is a grand bargain. For $475, CSA members receive local, organic produce every week for 20 weeks running. That’s one reason this CSA sells out quickly; 2014 memberships are fully subscribed. (Make a note on your calendar NOW: Next January, join the Cultiva CSA.)
But what’s truly innovative about this CSA is the youth farmers who make it hum. Working 10 – 15 hours per week, participants learn a litany of valuable skills: farming, nutrition, business, leadership. The program enables the kids to give back to their community too, with volunteer projects that fight hunger and educate people on the benefits of urban gardening.
The CSA model increases the viability of small produce companies throughout Boulder Valley by providing a more predictable revenue stream. At the same time, CSAs connect people to local food. We love the way Growing Gardens has added layers of goodness to the model, by bringing young people into the equation in meaningful ways.
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Growing Gardens is our Featured Friend for May.