In the midst of a precipitous decline in family farms and an industrious increase in large-scale agriculture, a back-to-basics farming movement is growing like a well-tended garden. Whether you are a supporter of local farmers at a farmers market, a member of a CSA farm, or you are simply worried about pesticides, going organic or going local has found many fans. And, while markedly more expensive than standard produce and meat initially, organic options are now much more in tune with prices for the rest of the food on the shelf. So, whether picking out a freshly plucked free-range organic chicken, a bunch of bibb lettuce, or a plump beefsteak tomato, organic and small farm options are plenty.
Thinking about starting your own Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm cooperative? Looking to join one? Or, are you just plain confused about what sustainable agriculture and CSA mean? Then this first site from the USDA Alternative Farming Systems Information Center is for you. Information on the site includes a National database of CSAs so that you can find one close to you, educational information for aspiring farmers, and general articles devoted to the topic of CSAs. The second site takes you to the other side of the pond and to the Organic-Europe Web site. This site includes information on 25 European countries. Included is all sorts of information on conferences and their proceedings as well as country-specific reports on organic agriculture. While some of the information is not exactly yesterday's news, the site does give a good glimpse at what's going on in organic farming somewhere other than the US. Produced by the Community Alliance with Family Farmers, this Web site does a good job of defining a CSA, discussing the benefits, and even providing the visitor with questions to think about when trying to pick a CSA. Also of note is an interesting history link off of the CAFF main page, which gives a good historical look at the role they played in legislation such as the Right to Know and Pesticide Contamination Prevention Acts. From providers to consumers, the next Web site --produced by the Organic Consumers Association-- states that its goal is "organizing organic consumers into a potent force for change." Whether you are curious about its activities, eager to join, looking for a local CSA or Green Business, or interested in becoming an organic activist, this site is for you. A bit less political, the next site is a great one for finding fresh produce and other goods throughout the year. Produced by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, the site provides farmers market info, a national directory of farmers markets, and information about the upcoming National Farmers Market Week (August 3-9). The last site, the Web presence of Local Harvest, offers all sorts of directory information on farms and CSAs, farmers markets, restaurants, and cooperatives nationwide. Through its "nationwide directory of small farms, farmers markets, and other local food sources," Local Harvest provides a great on-line catalog of information.