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Agriculture Press Release

March 5, 2002

Series of seminars to explore the growing trend of ‘community supported agriculture’

TALLAHASSEE -- Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson is inviting the public to attend seminars scheduled throughout the state to learn more about a new farming concept that is gaining momentum in the United States.

"Community supported agriculture," or CSA, consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production.

"Over the years, the percentage of people who grow food for our society has dramatically declined," Bronson said. "The huge responsibility of feeding our nation now rests with very few individuals. Only about 2 percent of Americans are farmers. The more consumers realize this, the more they are coming to embrace community supported agriculture, where they can share farming responsibility by helping reduce production and marketing risks for growers."

Typically, CSA members or shareholders of the farm pledge in advance to cover the anticipated costs of the farm operation and farmers’ salary. In return, they receive shares in the farm’s bounty throughout the growing season, as well as satisfaction gained from reconnecting to the land and participating directly in food production. Members also share in the risks of farming, including poor harvests due to unfavorable weather or pests. By direct sales to community members who have provided the farmer with working capital in advance, growers receive better prices for their crops, gain some financial security, and are relieved of much of the burden of marketing.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Extension Service are hosting a series of seminars throughout the state to help acquaint residents with the concept of community supported agriculture. Topics to be covered will include: types of CSA enterprises; recruiting shareholders; accounting systems; distribution systems; volunteers; and product marketing and publicity.

The featured presenter will be Rose Koenig, Ph.D., owner/operator of Rosie’s Organic Farm located in Gainesville, which began operation in 1993 and grows a variety of organically certified vegetables, cut flowers and herbs on 17 acres. The operation sells vegetables to a 75-member CSA, three local farmers’ markets and several wholesale accounts.

Dr. Koenig holds a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University in agriculture science, a master’s degree from the University of California Davis in international agriculture development with a specialization in agronomy and plant breeding, and a doctorate from the University of Florida in plant pathology.

Seminars will be held at the following locations on these dates:

March 14, Gainesville, 9 a.m.
Alachua County Extension Office, 2800 N.E. 39th Avenue

April 8, West Palm Beach, 2 p.m.
Palm Beach County Extension Office, 531 North Military Trail

April 9, Fort Pierce, 9:30 a.m.
St. Lucie County Extension Office, 8400 Picos Road, Suite 101

April 22, Fort Myers, 9 a.m.
Lee County Extension Office, 3406 Palm Beach Boulevard

April 25, Brooksville, 2 p.m.
Hernando County Extension Office, 19490 Oliver Street

June 6, DeLand, 2 p.m.
Volusia County Extension Office, 3100 East New York Avenue

June 10, East Palatka, 9:30 a.m.
Putnam County Extension Office, 111 Yelvington Road, Suite 1

For information about community supported agriculture, contact the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at 1-800-357-4273.


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