Agriculture program comes to ASU's West campus
Stylish American author Fran Lebowitz once remarked, “Food is an important part of a balanced diet.” ASU’s West campus has taken Lebowitz and her sardonic premise to heart, kicking off the 2010-2011 academic year with a focus on food that includes a freshman reading project, a film and speaker series, and now the introduction of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program that features weekly distribution of fresh, local produce to its members.
In addition to ASU students, faculty and staff, the Fall 2010 CSA seasonal subscription (Sept. 15-Dec. 1) is available to the general public.
Note: The CSA program will continue through the 2010-11 school year, resuming at the beginning of the Spring Semester for another 12-week distribution period. Current Fall Semester subscribers will need to renew their subscription, while new members are welcome. For more information, contact Gloria Chavez at 602-543-7720 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We’re very excited to offer such a program to the community,” said Elizabeth Langland, ASU vice president and dean of the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the West campus. “This is a wonderful example of our continued commitment to be a valued member of the community we serve, and it gives our students, staff, faculty and our West Valley neighbors a chance to be a part of a new movement of sustainable food options.
“This program provides a direct connection with a local farmer and reinforces the importance and the benefits of a fresh, sustainable and healthy lifestyle. And, it also connects wonderfully with our New College theme this year, ‘Much Ado About Food.’”
Presented by the West campus Sustainability Team, the CSA program features the produce of Phoenix-based Crooked Sky Farms and owner/farmer Frank Martin. Crooked Sky grows and supplies fresh, quality produce for several farmer’s markets and CSA’s across Arizona. The farm’s crops are Certified Naturally Grown, which means there is no use of synthetic chemical insecticides, herbicides, fungicides or fertilizers.
“This program is important because it instills a higher level of consciousness about the food we eat,” said Langland. “As a society we have become disconnected from the source of our foods, and are thus unaware of how it impacts our environment, our economy, our health. The CSA gives us the opportunity to re-establish that connection.”
Members of the CSA agree to commit and purchase weekly produce for $20 per week. The agreement allows members to share or partner with others. A subscription to the program provides members with a weekly bundle of eight different seasonally harvested fruits and vegetables that would provide most of the salad and vegetable needs for a couple or a small family for one week. Members are free to swap items with other members, and the distribution point at the West campus will become a place for CSA subscribers to share favorite dishes, preparation ideas and more.
“We are partnering with a local farm that is committed to sustainable practices, so this is a program and an opportunity that benefits our local economy while also enhancing sustainability by buying and consuming locally grown products,” Langland said. “We are proud to offer a program that addresses the interests of our campus and our community – eating a more healthy diet, knowing who is growing your food and under what conditions, and supporting sustainability.”
The New College dean also noted the CSA program is one of the best ways to ensure customers are purchasing the freshest produce possible.
“The average American meal travels 2,000 miles from farm to table,” she said. “The food from Crooked Sky Farms is handpicked the day it is delivered, and only travels 16 miles to our campus. The only other way to get produce this fresh is at a local farmers market.
“Not everyone has the opportunity to go to a farmers market each week to buy their produce, though. The CSA makes it more convenient for our community to enjoy healthier, fresh food. Members also save about $5 each week off what the farm sells the same quantity for at a farmers market, plus the cost of gas for the trip to the market.”
Distribution takes place from 1:30 - 3 p.m., on Wednesdays, beginning Sept. 15, in the University Center Building East Lobby. Food that is not picked up will be donated to the West Valley Food Bank. The West campus is located at 4701 West Thunderbird Road in northwest Phoenix.
The new CSA program is an important addition to the New College focus on food issues. Over the summer, incoming freshmen read “In Defense of Food,” a book by Michael Pollan that explores what the author calls the “American paradox” – the more we worry about nutrition, the less healthy we seem to become. Discussions about the book will take place throughout the year on the West campus and also during the New College film and speaker series “ThinK” (Thursdays in Kiva), which takes place on Thursday through the end of December.