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Farm Cooperative Delivers Organic Produce to the Desert

Posted by Morgan Miles Craft On 6:16 AM

Imagine this: Once a week, a box of fresh, organic and locally grown produce and herbs arrives here in the desert, with your name on it. All year long. Sound like a fantasy? The dream has come true with the Inland Empire CSA.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a partnership of mutual commitment between a farm or farms and a community of supporters that provides a direct link between the production and consumption of food. Consumers help to cover a farm's yearly operating budget by pledging (purchasing) a portion of the season's harvest. CSA members make a commitment to support the farms throughout the season, and assume the costs, risks and bounty of growing food along with the farmer or grower. The pledge helps to pay for seeds, fertilizer, water, equipment, maintenance, and labor. In return, the farms provide a healthy supply of seasonal fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs throughout the growing season. Becoming a member creates a responsible relationship between people and the food they eat, the land on which it is grown and those who grow it. 
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This mutually supportive relationship between local farmers, growers and community members helps create an economically stable farm operation in which members are assured the highest quality organic produce. In return, farmers and growers are guaranteed a reliable market for a diverse selection of crops.

The nation's best farmland is being lost to commercial and residential development at an accelerating rate. Additionally, the fundamental restructuring of the national and global economy has combined to make farming and local food production in the U.S. an increasingly difficult task. Community Supported Agriculture represents a viable alternative to the prevailing situation and the long-distance relationship most of us have with the food we eat.

CSA’s reflect an innovative and resourceful strategy to connect local farmers with local consumers; develop a regional food supply and strong local economy; maintain a sense of community; encourage land stewardship; and honor the knowledge and experience of growers and producers working with small to medium-sized farms.

The CSA is a unique model of local agriculture that has developed from many different influences. More than 30 years ago in Japan, a group of women concerned about the increase in food imports and the corresponding decrease in the farming population initiated a direct growing and purchasing relationship between their group and local farms. This arrangement, called "teikei" in Japanese, translates to "putting the farmers' face on food." A similar community farming approach has been successful in Europe. A variation of this concept traveled from Europe to the U.S. via the biodynamic community, where the method was adapted locally and given the name "Community Supported Agriculture". There are now over 1000 CSA farms across the US and Canada.

The Inland Empire CSA ( has been offering its produce to the Inland Empire for two years, and has now expanded the opportunity to the Coachella Valley, with pickup locations at the Palm Springs, Palm Desert, and La Quinta weekly Certified Farmer’s Markets. During the summer season, from June to September, when the farmer’s markets aren’t operating, produce can be picked up at the Palm Springs Stroke Recovery Center on Alejo Road.

Produce comes from a combination of two farms, Sage Mountain Farm ( and De Luz Farms and Nursery (, each with their own different growing climates and products. This gives the CSA a much better selection all year round. A pledge commits buyers to weekly or bi-weekly pickups, at about $30 per week, and the CSA provides a list of seasonally available products to choose from. Start planning those feasts now.

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