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Emily Black: 'People become connected to their food, where it comes from, and who produces it.'

Forest Grove is a community surrounded by agriculture. It is one of the many things I love about living in this area, as it reminds me of where I grew up in eastern Oregon.

I am currently an undergraduate student at Pacific University, Oregon. I am an economics major with coursework in environmental economics, policy, and food systems.

There are many forms of agriculture and frequent debates about best practices with arguments coming from everyone and their mother. I do not think that there is a one size fits all solution when it comes to agriculture, but I do think that there is a best option for our community: Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).

The way that CSA typically works is by farmers selling subscriptions or shares to local individuals or businesses. These shares consist of a variety of produce, and may contain other farm products as well.

CSA is a system that allows farmers and consumers to share support and risk, and acts as an alternative to industrial agriculture or corporate supply chains. It is a way for consumers to purchase local goods, supporting local farmers, and putting the power of the food supply chain back into the hands of the community.

Setting up CSA programs are not easy; however, Forest Grove is a great location for this type of food system to thrive.

Local farmers are close in proximity to consumers, reducing the challenge of transportation, and offering a wide potential client base. It requires coordination among both producers and consumers. It requires a shift from traditional agricultural practices of monoculture to a more holistic approach.

In order to meet the demand of a community rather than the market demand for one product, farmers must plant a variety of crops, moving towards the utilization of permaculture techniques.

Permaculture is better for the environment than monoculture, and helps to maintain the natural ecosystem. If you don't have environmental concerns, this method of agriculture is still relevant to you.

CSA initiatives provide a variety of local, ultra-fresh produce that you cannot purchase in a grocery store. The food is fresher, riper, and all around better. It doesn't have to be picked thousands of miles away and transported by planes, trains, and automobiles before it lands on your plate. It is picked by hard-working members of your community, then delivered to you. Food is no longer produced in some far-off place by strangers. People become connected to their food, where it comes from, and who produces it.

Fortunately for us, these systems do exist in our area. You can find local CSA programs at localharvest.org/forest-grove-or/csa.

Community Supported Agriculture is incredibly valuable, beyond what I can describe in a column. It is a way for our community to support our local farmers, get better food, connect with our food, reduce the hands that our food travels through, reduce emissions caused by the transportation of food, improve soil and ecosystem health, purchase ethically produced food, and so many more. Start supporting your community with your food choices.

Emily Black is an undergraduate student at Pacific University. She is majoring in economics.


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