Natural Healing: Guidestone Center for Sustainable Living's CSA

Fresh food for all.

| March/April 2001

  • Flower and vegetable gardens burgeon in organic soil at Guidestone’s community-supported agriculture farm in Masonville, Colorado.
  • A bountiful onion harvest awaits CSA members at Guidestone.

Fresh bread is just being pulled from a wood-fired brick oven when I arrive at the Guidestone Center for Sustainable Living in Masonville, Colorado. The center’s store is surrounded by 150 acres, including a vegetable garden, orchard, and raw milk dairy. This is a community- supported organic farm, and here, all things are connected, from the farmer to the person eating the food. Everyone and everything contribute to the health of the system.

Take the chickens, for example. They roam freely through the shade of the orchard, eating wormy fallen fruit, their manure adding beneficial nitrogen to the soil. In the vegetable garden, a cleverly designed “chicken tractor”—a wire cage holding a few chickens—is frequently moved around to allow the chickens to turn up and fertilize the soil. Turkeys wander among the salad greens and carrots, eating insects off of the crops. Pigs in the orchard use their talent for digging to root up weeds.

At Guidestone, 120 members and twelve full-time employees are fed by the vegetable garden. The farm aims to be as sustainable as possible, and also sells raw milk and yogurt, organic meat, and products such as bread, soaps, and salves.

What does CSA mean?

The farm practices community-supported agriculture (CSA), a grassroots agricultural movement where members pay a fee at the beginning of a growing season. This allows the farmer to buy the seeds, fertilizer, water, and equipment, and in turn guarantees the members a weekly share of the harvest. An underlying feature of CSA farms is that they be organic, although not all are. Some farms are certified organic by a third party, and about 10 percent of CSA farms in the United States follow a method of agriculture known as biodynamics, which takes organic farming a step further, recognizing that the health of a plant is based on healthy soil. With healthy soil, the plant can take in good nutrients rather than chemicals.

“Out of that wisdom of plant life comes a more proper nutrition for humanity,” says Chuck Beedy, executive director of BioDynamics, a group in San Francisco that tracks CSA farms in the United States.

A different approach

The CSA model began in Japan thirty years ago when a group of women partnered themselves with local farms in a growing and purchasing relationship. This relationship, known as teikei, means to put the farmer’s face on the food.

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