Our Philosophy

Festina lente
-make haste...slowly

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Community Supported Horticulture

This idea is raw and unpolished.  I'm just getting my time and date stamp on it as published IP.  There is plenty of searching and seeking of advice left in this notion.

Everyone knows about Community Supported Agriculture, so much so that perhaps "CSA" is a more familiar term than the spelled out version.  For anyone who has been residing under a rock for the last decade or so, a CSA is a prescriptive relationship between producer and consumer that cuts out any involvement by expensive middlemen.  You pledge your support to me (the producer) in advance, stating that you want so much produce every week, for such and such a price, and I promise to provide that produce at the pre-arranged price for the life of the contract.  Producer and consumer share the risks and rewards.  It's a beautiful cutting edge food-sourcing agreement that has begun the arduous work of reshaping the unsustainable industrial food production model.  In short, from an energy descent perspective, the CSA idea is pure brilliance.  It will reproduce itself exponentially without a doubt.

Community Supported Horticulture is the next phase.  What I have in mind is to take my limited 10-member CSA, and for those who have faithfully subscribed for the last two years, I want to offer them an exclusive opportunity to join our emerging CSH.  This is all pure visioning of course, as my CSA hasn't even officially begun yet, but the seeds of.succession always seem to sprout as soon as the soil is properly prepared.  If this idea is a success it will be because of the vanguard ecosystem that made it possible, not because of me.

But I love it, here it is:

Membership in the CSH will be offered based on tenure, tenure that will have exposed the potentials to a certain level of permacultural thought, through mere exposure to the CSA manager and his systems, and it will cost more, not sure how much more, doesn't matter, doesn't even have to be in traditional monetary units, but more, because the membership perks will be far more valuable, and intensive.  The underlying CSA should at this point practically run itself (with the help of an intern perhaps, another valuable layer of pedagogy).  The CSH is now the hierarchical level that matters for the general steward.  It should include at least 2-3 hours of consultation work on the member's (hopefully) developing site, and 12 hour a day free tech support (those are our normal phone/email response hours, 9-9).  The physical product on offer will be bush, bramble, and tree fruit, herbs, ecologically-appropriate contract meats, and mushrooms, (+?), but the most important bit will be rooted plants: grafted fruit trees, rooted cuttings, bramble starts, fruiting bushes, mushroom logs, blocks, boxes, and buckets, herb starts, that sort of thing.  Physical product could be opted out of by preferences for consultation services (probably by the hypothetically-interested 3).  The goal of this stage of the operation will be to help establish a new local hub of ethical food production off-site, another node in the network, through the proper spread of both potted plants, and more importantly the biologically-active, mineral-dense soils in which they are packaged (terrestrial seeding), and appropriate human ecological systems perspectives (more pedagogy).  It's basically the weaning and training phase.  After about 2-3 years of CSH participation the interested subscriber's system should be functional enough to begin his or her own limited-membership CSA, then CSH, and so forth and so on.

 This doesn't require that everyone moves in the same direction, only that a few inevitably will, especially if jobs patterns hold (and I imagine that will be the case), and that will be plenty to expand the horticultural pattern.  Three of my ten, then three of their ten, and so forth.  In this way the whole of the region could be organically brought up to speed in a matter of a couple of decades, mean consumption declining the entire time, stretching Hubbert's curve out to the right even farther.  Growth will be cellular, not by gigantism, and limited by design, but at no risk of failure by over-reach.  No metabolically-expensive regulation will be required.  "Greedy" individuals who choose to expand from a 10 member to a 15 or even 25  (these numbers are all spectacularly arbitrary at this point, and by no means prescriptive) member CSA will get bogged down in the initial phase change, and effectively lost for the next.  But enough will move along successfully to matter, and at this point the whole region will basically be one giant local marketplace, and the next phase of energy descent will then favor the emerging timely and informed.  Can't wait to see that one.

1 comment:

  1. This is a fabulous idea. Wish I lived in Georgia...