An Introduction to the CSA Charter
In February 1979, a tractorcade of 6,000 farmers tied up traffic in Washington, D.C. to protest farm policy that ended parity, the pricing system that had linked farm prices to the costs of other sectors of the economy. The deepening farm crisis of the 1980s accelerated the loss of family-scale farms. Developers were grabbing up farmland at the rate of many acres a day. In face of the grim reality that small and mid-sized, family-scale community based farming could disappear completely in the US, people who wanted to farm and support farms had to invent creative alternatives – that is how Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) was born.
In Anthony Graham’s words: “Ideas have a way of hovering until the time is right or the right person or group can give it form. Booker T Whatley sounds like he was a forerunner in the idea of communities supporting farms and farmers, but I don’t think he can be said to have created the CSA concept. In the mid 80’s what has now come to be known as CSA was an idea whose time had come, with roots in many places and in many people. It grew out of a sense of community and it came as an answer to a need. When the time was ripe it grew exponentially through the work of many people, not the least of whom were the farmers who recognized a great idea and ran with it.” In the South, Booker T. Whatley researched and taught farmers “How to Make $100,000 from a 25 Acre Farm.” Inspired by Swiss and German examples, Robyn Van En and Trauger Groh, Anthony Graham and Lincoln Geiger established the first CSA farms in the US in 1986, Indian Line Farm and Temple-Wilton Community Farm. Robyn became CSA’s Johnny Appleseed, spreading the concept at Biodynamic and Organic conferences across the country. In 2017, there are over 7300 CSAs in the US.