The Dirt on the Farm 6/23/15

Hi everybody. Farmer Tim here. I wanted to take a minute and thank you all for signing up for our CSA program this year. I thank you not just as the owner of LotFotL but as a concerned citizen, a person in the world who too easily sees problems and challenges in the state of the nation, but doesn’t always see solutions, or the will to change things come to fruition. I believe that CSA has a unique, irreplaceable role to play in shaping the future of food in our country, and I hope by the end of this article that you’ll pat yourself on the back, puff your chest up a bit, and take pride in this decision you’ve made and the relationship we’ve begun to charter. Ours may be a quiet role to play in shaping the future of food, no Pandora adds or billboards likely, but that makes this opportunity all the more special.

CSA’s are nothing without their member’s abiding support through the hardships that are the backbone of agricultural America. Agriculture in America is not a pursuit that many can take up and make a living at, not without help, luck, and an amazing amount of effort. The numbers oscillate annually based on many factors, but according to USDA statistics, between 80-95% of income for an American farm family comes from off farm sources. Think about that for a minute. Imagine your 50-60 hour a week job only contributing 5-15% of your total income for the year. Now add 20 hours a week to your workload. Agriculture is tough on many fronts.

CSA farming, because of member support, allows for opportunities where none should exist. LotFotL is a case in point of this possibility. Through the support of it’s membership since 2007, LotFotL has taken a 20 something generalist, long on dreams and short on skills, and turned his dreams into a productive, soil improving, stable farm business. Together, we have hired over 80 people(always at least $.50 above minimum wage) and paid out more than $500,000 in wages. We’ve given hundreds more the opportunity to earn their food while learning what it takes to grow it, and fed tens of thousands of folks in the greater Milwaukee area produce that isn’t anonymously produced in the dark crevices of the world.The farm provides for Tim and April’s needs in full. Neither has had $1 of off farm income in 3 years.

Together, we’re growing farmers, passing the baton, expanding our imprint.  CSA, as a means of feeding your family, contributes more than any other avenue directly toward growing farmers for the future. In our own case, 3 past and 4 current employees of LotFotL are actively engaged in the process of setting in motion their own food-based, organic farming operations. These current and future farmers are raising livestock in ecological contexts that are innovative, scale appropriate, and nurturing to the soil (http://www.moomawfarm.com/). They are expanding the role of permaculture and perennial potentials in agriculture in southeast Wisconsin, leading to restorative land management and hardy kiwis and hazelnuts all at once (https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/feral-farm-growing-food-and-ecosystems#/story). They are developing models for productive, financially sustainable farms that double as places for folks with special needs, not only to get care and focused attention, but to also learn life skills, to gain confidence, and to discover the thrills of growing food. Your buck does much more here than just buy you some food.

Folks that study ecology have come up with a law, something that is invariably true in the world. The law is often called the law of multiple effects, summed up neatly with the statement that “you can’t just do one thing.” Their meaning is that actions we take ripple outwards past our intended outcome to other reaches. Your choice to be a member of our CSA this year benefits you and us, but it doesn’t stop there. Thank you for helping us build soil, grow farmers, and for helping us demonstrate that small scale farming doesn’t need to be a pipe dream in America, if you’re fortunate enough to have a community that has your back.