Local Harvest CSA Role in the Community

"A community economy is not an economy in which well-placed persons can make a ‘killing’. It is an economy whose aim is generosity and a well-distributed and safeguarded abundance." -- Wendell Berry


Local Foods Connection

Laura Dowd and Susan Jutz

Local Foods Connection voted
2009 Best Local Non-Profit
in the Edible Iowa Local Hero Awards

As the founding mothers of Local Harvest CSA, Simone Delaty and I are committed to the belief that Local Harvest CSA membership should represent our community’s diversity, and as such, participation should not be limited by financial constraints. Since 1999, Local Harvest CSA has been working with Laura Dowd at Local Foods Connection, a nonprofit organization that enrolls low-income families and agencies that serve them in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs. Local Foods Connection (LFC) purchases produce, bread, eggs, meat and other products from our farm and other local earth-friendly farms and provides these goods to families who care about what they eat and the environment in which they live but cannot afford such nutritious, tasty and fresh food.

Some of the groups we have worked with in Iowa City via Local Foods Connection are Ecumenical Towers, Neighborhood Centers of Johnson County, the Free Medical Clinic and the Head Start program at HACAP. In Cedar Rapids LFC purchased CSA shares from us for Matthew 25 Ministry Hub and a neighborhood center in Cedar Rapids.  These agencies receive multiple CSA shares and extra produce from our CSA harvest. In addition, a ny vegetables that remain at the drop site after the designated pick-up time are distributed via these networks into the community.

For example, during the 2009 season, Ecumenical Towers received 2 to 3 shares worth of excess produce from Local Harvest CSA every week after our Wednesday distribution at the farmers market. Ecumenical Towers is an affordable independent living retirement home that houses many low-income elders and the disabled. The extra produce is displayed in a common room and any resident can take some. One resident of Ecumenical Towers recently wrote:

“Thank you so much for all the wonderful fresh vegetables you give us here at Ecumenical Towers.  They are really appreciated.  Some people living here have very little income.”

Matthew 25 Ministry Hub in Cedar Rapids provides a wide range of services to community members, including neighborhood meals and supplemental food, and works to make the community stronger.  Especially since the flood of 2008, Matthew 25 acts as a site where people can come together, make connections, and talk about the future of the neighborhood. Using the CSA shares purchased by LFC, Matthew 25 serves as a free-lunch site during the summer. Nearly 2/3 of the attendees were children. In addition, Matthew 25 divided and redistributed some of the share’s produce between six neighborhood families. One Matthew 25 CSA family member from Cedar Rapids wrote:

“I just want you to know that this past year was very up and down for me and my family. . . . When I was standing at the sink one day cleaning the first bag of vegetables, I really felt like God was taking care of me by providing good quality food to keep us all going…My vegetables helped not only my own family but I also shared some with neighbors and friends. . . Your vegetables have fed more families than you probably realize.  Thank you again, from all of us for the wonderful vegetables of the summer.”

If you would like to help with these efforts please consider making a tax-deductible donation to Local Foods Connection.