Flagstaff CSA helps Flagstaff localvores
By Christian Booz
You may have heard of herbivores, omnivores and carnivores, but Flagstaff is quickly becoming over run with localvores: someone who gets the majority of their food from local sources. The name sounds fancy, but becoming a localvore is actually much easier than you would think. The first step is to join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), which is a locally based model of agriculture.
Here are the basics of how a CSA functions: a farmer offers a certain number of shares, or subscriptions, to the public. Normally a share consists of a box of vegetables currently in season, although sometimes other foods such as meat are included. Consumers may purchase a share and receive a box of food each week.
In many ways, the CSA model helps both farmers and consumers. Through a CSA, farmers already know how much food they are going to sell before the long days toiling in the field begin. On the other hand, consumers have the luxury of eating extremely fresh food, being exposed to new kinds of vegetables and therefore new types of cooking, and they also gain a sense of ease knowing exactly where their food comes from.
Here in Flagstaff, our CSA is located at 116 W. Cottage Ave. in the Beaver Street Brewery parking lot. This particular CSA doubles as a local market, because even without a share, one can purchase local, seasonal vegetables as well as other local food products including meats, cheese, honey, pasta, olive oil, cookies, soap and many other items. You can even purchase turkeys for Thanksgiving if you are a shareholder.
The Flagstaff CSA was started ten years ago by students in the Bilby Research Center at NAU. In those 10 years, the CSA & Local Market has grown to over 300 members, has a large network of volunteers and has moved to its current location. The produce all comes from Crooked Sky Farms, a Certified Naturally Grown farm, located in Glendale. All the food is has absolutely no synthetic chemical insecticides, herbicides, fungicides or fertilizers, making it extremely healthy.
Signing up for a share is simple; it only costs $25 dollars a week and can be done at any time, although it is encouraged to purchase the share before the growing season starts. Customers can sign up for either a full share (pick up every week) or a half share (pick up every other week).
Karna Otten, the Flagstaff CSA coordinator, believes purchasing a share is a great idea for college students, especially if they like to cook. With eight to ten items a week, “A share could feed a college student for a week if they wanted to supplement with meats and such,” Otten explains.
Customers reap the benefits of CSAs, as do the city of Flagstaff and its environment. The food is all locally grown and organic, and because of this, Otten says, “[It] makes it more nutritious, more environmentally friendly due to lower carbon emissions and supports small business.”
In addition, the Flagstaff CSA, in keeping with the green initiative, composts all of their produce that goes bad as well as food trash from around the area. The CSA composting garden creates an opportunity for shareholders to get free or reduced compost for their own gardens, and it makes the CSA almost completely zero waste.
With the help of the Flagstaff CSA, NAU could easily become a true localvore university, which would set an example for Arizona. If you are interested in becoming a shareholder with the CSA, head over to 116 W. Cottage Ave or call (928) 213-6948.