Community Supported Agriculture Jumps to the Next Level

There must be hundreds of iterations of the community supported agriculture model yet to be discovered. CSAs have become one of the most popular business models for small scale sustainable agriculture, since the model has a proven track record of economic sustainability as well. In urban areas, where farm land is scarce, several new farming companies are exploring fresh versions of the tried and true CSA model, bringing the farm to your backyard.

In Portland, Oregon, the two-person farm crew at Your Backyard Farmer create, plant, and tend backyard gardens for people all over the city. Each backyard garden is custom built according to the specific customer's family size and eating habits. With an artillery of soil amendments, simple irrigation system, transplants, and a little elbow grease, the farmers build a kitchen garden, check up on it once a week, and leave a weekly basket full of the garden harvest on the land owner's front step. And of course, it's all organic. For those customers who are  interested in a more interactive gardening experience, Your Backyard Farmer also offers urban garden consulting and guidance. Their vision and business is a more direct approach to the CSA, the main difference being that rather than farming one consolidated piece of farmland, the Backyard Farmers essentially maintain and harvest from lots of little farms all over Portland.

Similar sustainable agriculture businesses are sprouting up in Seattle too. The Seattle Urban Farm Company offers a variety of services that help people build, develop, and maintain their own urban farm. The projects range from installing rooftop gardens for restaurants, builds school gardens, and putting in raised beds for private companies, to building backyard chicken coops, goat pens,  and teaching gardening classes.  Seattle Urban Farm Company's services go beyond installation and they offer a full menu of maintenance and upkeep options, depending on how much a client wants to be involved. While they don't pick and deliver produce to your doorstep, they do offer weekly garden check ins to make sure that weeds and pests are at bay and plants are healthy. By helping people who are interested in growing their own food realize their goal through design, installation, and education, Seattle Urban Farm Co.  is pioneering a new path in sustainable agriculture.

If community supported agriculture has become a major part of what sustainable agriculture looks like today, backyard garden installation projects are an extension of that. By narrowing the gap even further and connecting consumers more closely--as close as their own backyard, in fact--to what they eat, these businesses are reaching for the next level of the CSA. As sustainable agriculture becomes more deeply rooted in our communities, we can expect to see more and more variations and riffs on the "traditional" community supported model.

photo credit: olygardener