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Shaking Earth

Community Sustainable Agriculture revolutionizes the way we farm, shop and eat

By Christina Waters

SO WHAT'S UNIQUE about Community Sustainable Agriculture? Well, CSA organic farming is a micro-model of biodynamic diversity--in other words, because the harvest is intended to provide all food needs for a stable community of consumers, a wide variety of foods is planted, not just row upon row of corn, or acre upon acre of beans.

The farm/garden is set up as a self-sustaining system, with care taken to perpetuate the productivity of the land. Compost from the gleaning of one harvest is used to fertilize the next, rather than simply using the land to produce a bottom-line crop.

This is in vivid contrast to large-scale agricultural operations that specialize in a single-crop farming, called "monocropping." Given that a single crop is at stake, large-scale farmers tend toward liberal use of chemical pesticides to control pests and disease. Since their crops are all clones of a single variety, what will kill one plant will kill them all.

With biodiverse CSA situations, pest-management techniques not only depend upon nontoxic solutions, but the entire harvest--composed of so many different kinds of plant varieties--can remain strong even if a single unit within it falls prey to pests.

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From the April 10-16, 1997 issue of Metro Santa Cruz

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