Farm−share pilot to coordinate with Tufts academic calendar
Published: Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Updated: Friday, February 10, 2012 18:02
A Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) pilot program tailored for the Tufts community launched yesterday as student and faculty participants received their first batch of fresh produce grown by Enterprise Farms using sustainable agricultural practices.
CSA is an alternative form of food distribution in which members of the community commit to supporting a local farming operation, often through an upfront payment for the entire season, thus sharing in the risks and benefits of production.
It typically involves regular pickups or drop−offs of local, fresh produce. The Tufts program with Enterprise Farms, located in South Deerfield, Mass., will involve on−campus pickups every Tuesday from February through April.
Tufts' Office of Sustainability first proposed the idea to the Tufts Sustainability Collective (TSC), Tufts Culinary Society and Balance Your Life after discussing with Enterprise Farms the potential for a CSA program that would cater to students' schedules, according to Tina Woolston, the office's program director.
In particular, TSC co−Director sophomore Stephanie Krantz explained that the pilot program would coordinate with Tufts' academic calendar, with no pickups the week of spring break and a May end date.
Although there have been other CSA opportunities on campus in the past, this is the first program that is exclusively catered to the Tufts community, according to TSC co−Director Katie Segal, a sophomore.
As of last week, 20 students had signed up for the pilot, but registration will remain open for the rest of the semester at a pro−rated cost, according to Krantz.
Enterprise Farms has been associated with the Office of Sustainability since 2009, Woolston said. The farm is involved in an East Coast Share that allows it to receive out−of−season produce directly from other small, sustainable farms along the East Coast.
Krantz emphasized the quality and sustainability of the farm's produce, saying that almost all of the farms that Enterprise associates with use organic, pesticide−free agricultural methods.
"The food is all fresh," she said. "None of it is stored in warehouses before you get it."
Participants may choose to have a small share for $24 per week, a medium share for $31 per week or a large share for $42 per week. Enterprise also accepts food stamps and is willing to receive payments in installments.
Enterprise is very confident in their partners' trustworthy growing practices and respect for their workers' well being, with the farms being held to high standards, Segal added.
Still, as with most CSA programs, participants will not be able to choose the type of produce that they receive.
"If you are really particular about what fruits and vegetables you want to eat, then a farm share is probably not the best solution because you can't control what's in it," Woolston said. "It really makes you have to be creative and be willing to branch out from what maybe your normal diet would be."
Segal noted that although participants have no control over what types of produce they receive, all of the shares include a considerable amount of food with a lot of variety.
Woolston said that Enterprise Farms was eager to bring their services to Tufts after having piloted a student−friendly program at Greenfield Community College in western Mass.
Segal and Krantz said that the program seemed to be a good fit for the Tufts campus, citing a significant interest in sustainable practices.
"We really felt that the campus overall is really into sustainability and really open to the idea of being more sustainable if they have the opportunity to do so," Segal said.
Krantz noted that other groups, like Tom Thumb's Student Garden and Food 4 Thought, have recently been making sustainability a priority on campus.
"I think food is a good way for people to get involved with sustainability," she added.
The program does pose certain challenges — for example, participants leaving a mess after picking−up their weekly share, according to Woolston. Still, she emphasized a commitment to its success.
"As long as people are interested, I hope we can continue to provide a space for it," she said.
This article has been changed from its original version. It incorrectly stated the prices per share were $26/$34/$46 for small, medium and large shares, respectively; in fact shares are $24/$31/$46.