The Weekly Veggie Fest In the Abundance Back Room
"Cooperation among coops" is one of the basic principles of the cooperative movement. In this spirit, Genesee Valley Organic Community Supported Agriculture (GVOCSA), the oldest CSA in western New York, has been doing its distribution from the back room at Abundance since shortly after the store opened.
GVOCSA is a cooperative venture between the farmers at Peacework Farm near Newark, and close to 300 households who make a full-season commitment to share the risks and rewards with the farm. From May through November, GVOCSA members come to the store to pick up their shares between 6:30 and 8 pm on Thursdays and 5:30 and 7 pm on Sundays.
Since 1988-89, the GVOCSA has been inviting all members to cooperate either by serving on the core group that administers the project or by doing a combination of farm work and distribution. Members pay on a sliding scale from $400 to $680 for a full share with a few paying as little as $240 in food stamps. By some miracle of serendipity, member payments average out to the $480 that the farm needs to cover its budget. Core members serve as treasurer, coordinate distribution at the store, publish a bi-monthly newsletter and many other jobs. Three mornings a season, members drive to the farm to spend four hours har-vesting and prepping the vegetables and herbs for the shares, then picnic before driving back to Abundance to store the food in the GVOCSA cooler. Late in the afternoon, the distribution crew gets the shares ready for members to pick up. Children are welcome at the farm; every year over a hundred experience farm work to-gether with their parents and other adults.
While the GVOCSA was the first CSA, there are now over 20 farms and food businesses in this area offering shares of various kinds. Farmers like CSA because it assures them a steadier income than other forms of marketing. The Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY) held a fair in March to bring more public attention to the opportu-nity CSAs offer to connect with and sup-port local farms. Each CSA is unique, with different farm products and pick up arrangements. To find one, see the Directory on the NOFA website. It may not be too late to sign up for this season!
As of 5/19/11, the GVOCSA is still accepting new members.