Saturday, September 8, 2007

The Value of Volunteers

Another beautiful Saturday morning at New Earth Farm. The temperature is about 75 degrees, and our farmers are being assisted by Kristin and Andrea, farm volunteers, and Tom Baker and Ted Call, CSA volunteers. I'm in the kitchen slicing cantalope and peaches, checking the coffee and turning off the rice/millet combo. Our Norfolk group driver, Glinda and her daughter, Kylee have called in from London Bridge Road- arriving early to help. Before 8:30, the farm is moving with helping hands.

We've been doing some thinking about the relationship of volunteering to the CSA. It seems that most CSAs require volunteer hours, and some CSAs allow a lower fee for those who do more volunteer hours. Some people think that a CSA is about " getting a box", while others come to walk in the fields and ask what's coming up, what got eaten by not-so-good bugs and so on. For these two years, I've felt the lingering appreciation for the folks who come of their own good will to help turn "produce" into vegetables that will turn into meals. They say " it takes a village " to raise a child, but it also takes lots of willing workers to make the CSA be much more than a food buying club.
Folks who want Organic Food any way they can get it- can get it- online, in big stores like
Whole Foods or Trader Joe's. But the people who want to be connected to a farm do their best to find a CSA near them. Sometimes they have to get on a waiting list. Sometimes a member invites a friend to share the share. It works.

Membership in a CSA isn't like getting married- but it is about staying with it through the season, even when you're tired of okra or eggplant. You hang in there because you belong to a farm.

Today, Farmer John was feeling really tight in his muscles-as a hard working farmer, carpenter, he counts on his body for all his labor. We talked about all the wonderful healers who are members of our CSA, and I suggested that we ask Stephanie or Chris Wall about a massage. Stephanie said she'd be glad to help. When John asked about her fee , Stephanie said, " John, you're my farmer." Of course John intended to pay for his massage, but it was her response that moved me. How many people can say " You're my farmer"?

I want to thank all CSA volunteers anywhere. If not for CSAs many farmers would have given up the thing they love most- growing food. If not for volunteers, there might not be so many CSAs.

Muchas Gracias, Volunteers!

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