All of us at Full Belly Farm give thanks every day to our CSA members because we believe that our CSA program is not only a way for you to get great fruits and vegetables every week, but also a way for you to be more connected with us, your family farm. This week, if any of you want to deepen that connection beyond Full Belly and into the world of organizations working for change in food and agriculture across the state, we want to say just a few words about one of our favorite organizations, the Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF).
CAFF works directly with members, particularly family farmers, to increase the use and consumption of fresh, healthy, local food, and to help farms prosper. CAFF builds relationships between sellers and buyers, and also provides technical support to farmers, like production planning, connections with local markets, product line development, and food safety plans. It really seems to us that family farms are a cornerstone of healthy communities in many of the regions where CAFF works.
For several decades, CAFF has worked on-farm, supporting farmers as they increase their farm’s biodiversity, plant hedgerows, and reduce their use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Currently, CAFF’s dry farming program is working with growers as they try to use less water on their farms.
The bulk of CAFF’s programs are based in schools and hospitals, educating students and hospital staff about healthy eating through farm field trips, in-class lessons about vegetables and diet, and apprenticeship opportunities for older youth. These initiatives are focused on low-income schools and communities. They increase fresh food access by assisting school and hospital food service staff to get their food from local family farms. Students, teachers, patients, staff, and the wider community benefit from fresher, healthier food.
CAFF has been an advocate for family farmers for over 35 years. Food and farming are at the center of a lot of issues that we all care about – human health, environmental health, and community health, to name a few. CAFF’s policy program is currently working on climate change, farm land preservation, water use in agriculture, direct marketing regulations, and ‘food safety.’ That last one, ‘food safety,’ is all about helping farmers respond to a lot of crazy new rules that can be pretty burdensome when added together. We want to make sure that 10 years from now, CSA members don’t look back and notice that local agriculture has withered on the vine because of all the regulatory ‘food safety’ hoops.
Just think about a few of the challenges we face: drought; climate change; chronic illnesses that are related to diet; population growth in California that threatens to put concrete on top of some of the best ag land in the world; not to mention the increasing power of chemical companies and genetic engineering advocates at all levels of our government. We need organizations that are dedicated to protecting the interests of CSA members and family farmers. If you agree, please consider becoming a member of CAFF. You can find out a lot more at www.caff.org. You can donate through the web site, or send a check to PO Box 363, Davis, California 95617. Thank you!
~ Judith Redmond
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