What is a CSA?

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a partnership between a local farm (or group of farms) and members of the surrounding community. In the winter and early spring, members buy a share of the harvest--the farmers then use this money for seeds, greenhouse expenses, equipment, labor, etc. In return, members receive a weekly distribution of the farm’s products - members’ investment is returned in healthful, vibrant food, as fresh as it gets!  The farm(s) pledges to grow food for the community and the community pledges to support the farm. 

+ CSAs support sustainable and responsible land management, a shrinking carbon footprint, and communities that can nourish themselves
+ A community is formed by the members of a CSA and the farmers who produce their food. 
+ It gives the farmers a sure market and a gauge to produce by, minimizing losses and ensuring the success of the farm

The basic CSA model has many different practical variations depending on the preferences of each farm and community.  The Full Plate Farm Collective CSA offers about 500 shares to households in the Ithaca area.  Members can decide when they join whether they would like to pick up their weekly share at one of the farms or have it delivered.  Full Plate members who pick up at one of the farms can choose what they’d like to take home (according to what’s in season and what’s available that week), and members who opt for delivery receive a farmer-picked assortment of that week’s harvest.

What is organic farming?

Organic farming is growing food without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, fertilizers or genetically modified organisms (GMO’s). This is important because food grown with the use of synthetic chemicals contains traces, residues and often harmful levels of the chemicals used during its production. Each organically grown head of lettuce may look a little different than the one growing next to it - that’s natural! We love all the quirky shapes our veggies take on!

Organic farmers use natural pest and disease control methods which demand that the farmer be watchful, creative and informed. The web of life on a farm has wondrous intricacies and a farmer must pay attention to as many of them as she or he can. The farmers are always looking ahead, asking what the effects of their actions are going to be on the future. Some of the methods organic farmers use are crop rotation, compost and other natural fertilizers, companion planting, and cover cropping to create and maintain nutrient rich soil.

All Full Plate veggies are organic!  You might see hole or two on your collard leaf where a cabbage worm passed through, or get a squash with a deer nibble taken out of it now and again, but you’ll know you are safe from toxins and carcinogens, that your vegetables are packed with all the nutrients healthy soil has to offer, and that the person growing your food is paying attention to the land, your food and the future. 

What are heirloom varieties?

One way that organic farmers have found to work with the Earth is to preserve the natural diversity of plants by preserving and growing heirloom varieties. It is common knowledge that biological diversity is the key to sustained life , unfortunately, in the past century the number of varieties of vegetables produced has vastly diminished.

It has gotten so bad that we think tomatoes look like one certain round, squat, evenly red variety pictured on the sides of trucks, boxes and sauce cans every where. In fact, there are more varieties of tomato than you can count on fingers and toes. There are golden yellow pear shaped tomatoes, small round striped tomatoes, deep dark purple tomatoes, tomatoes that are green when they are ripe…… the list goes on - and that's just tomatoes! 

You have an exciting year of taste testing a wide variety of greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and more ahead of you!

What is biodynamic farming?

Biodynamic agriculture is a holistic method of farming with the goal of producing food that truly nourishes the body and spirit. While the fundamental principles of present day organic farming (the exclusion of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers in crop production) are included in biodynamic agriculture, its breadth and depth exceed that of organic farming. 

A biodynamic farm is understood to be a living, breathing organism, so farming practices strive to balance the overall health of the farm, in order to produce the very highest quality food. Farmers generate fertility from within the farm, in the form of composted manures and cover crops, rather than purchasing inputs from off the farm. A number of special herbal preparations are used in homeopathic doses, these preparations have harmonizing influences on soil, plant and animal health on the farm. The presence of both animals and crops is also an essential feature of biodynamic agriculture. Composted animal manures enliven soils in a way purchased inputs cannot. Ultimately, the food produced in this way has a vitality that supports human health and development in an un-paralleled way.

Biodynamic farming began as “biological-dynamic” farming in Europe in the 1920s. It was spurred by a group of farmers who perceived a widespread and marked decline in animal health and soil fertility, beginning with the advent of man-made fertilizers. They sought the advice of Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), the prolific thinker, lecturer and writer who also developed Waldorf Education and Anthroposophy, among other disciplines. There seems to be a lot of mystical hodge-podge swirling around biodynamic farming to people who don’t know much about it, and even some people who do. The practices range from the straight forward – such as the specifics of mixing compost - to the more esoteric - burying cow horns packed with a manure mixture for use as a homeopathic spray promoting soil health, but they all share a common goal of cultivating a healthy farm ecosystem and community of veggie lovers.

The Full Plate farmers who use biodynamic methods do so because they find that the methods produce the results they want to see on their farms, and because they are drawn to the nourishment that they, as farmers, get by participating in their farm at the level that farming biodynamically demands. Remembrance Farm raises cows and sheep because animals are integral to life and thus to the farm. Animal products from these operations are made available to Full Plate members.