College Cooks With Community-Supported Agriculture

College Cooks With Community-Supported Agriculture

a href="">Prescott College is serving up a new community supported agriculture program, the first college-run program of its kind in the Southwest, to feed students, faculty and staff during the school year. The Prescott College CSA, started and run by students, contracts with local farmers for “shares” of crops and distributes the produce each week to shareholders.

Prescott College, a small, private, liberal arts college with a strong emphasis on ecological literacy and experiential education, is the first college in the U.S. Southwest to initiate a CSA program. In addition, the program model, which is a bit different than traditional CSAs, is the first of its kind in the country at a college or university.

Professor Tim Crews of Prescott’s agroecology program, and director of Wolfberry Farm, the college’s 30-acre experimental farm, says his school’s CSA is unique due to its complexity.

“Most other CSAs contract with one farm and provide food only during the summer. We are contracting with multiple local growers, who farm at different elevations, to provide during the school year,” Crews said.

Prescott College’s CSA has contracted with seven farms, including Wolfberry Farm, to feed a partial diet to 70 shareholders from September to May. Approximately half of the shareholders are students, with the other half faculty and staff.

According to Heather Houk, an agroecology major who started the CSA with other students, CSA is a guaranteed market for farmers.

“We buy food directly from the farmers, giving them a better and more predictable income and in turn give the shareholders more produce at a better price,” Houk said.

Shareholders paid $330 for a nine-month contract and receive about two grocery bags worth of produce each week. They also had the option to buy 25 pounds of range-fed beef for $60.

Environmental Advantages

In addition to keeping food dollars in the local community and creating economically stable farm operations, Crews said, CSAs also yield environmental advantages:

“This program allows us to take responsibility for the environmental impact of our foods. Buying food regionally reduces travel time, the use of fossil fuels and the need for packaging. It creates a partial nutrient cycle because compost can be collected and returned to the farms. Shareholders can influence a farmer’s environmental practices by paying them to grow produce organically and can visit the farms and see how the land is stewarded,” Crews said.

“Within three years we’d like to see full school support, with virtually everyone at the college a member and new students enrolled automatically as part of their tuition. We hope to add dairy and chicken products and provide the school with 50% to 75% of their diet,” Crews said.



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