We have been leaders in organic movement which we helped initiate nearly 50 years ago. Indeed, from day one we have farmed organically. We also welcomed with open arms the “Local Foods” movement. We were initiators of multiple farmers’ markets in the 1970’s when these local venues were coming back on the scene after decades of absence. We were early supporters of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 which finally defined “organic”. We have certificates back to 1990. One of the hallmarks of the National Organic Program was the requirement for farms to be verified independently on an annual basis. There’s also an alternative system aimed at the same discerning consumer called Certified Naturally Grown. This doesn’t have near the rigor of the NOP. Some growers say “we grow with organic methods”. There’s no proof this is so, nor any way to know if those growers even know what organic is (much less the fact it’s illegal to call something organic without having been inspected through the NOP).
Over a period of decades now, we have all seen a shift. Not only do consumers want food which is organic and local, they are willing to go out of their way to get it and even pay more for the cost of its production.
This has attracted an army of wannabes. Many formerly “commercial” growers, have tweaked their growing practices to qualify as organic. This is generally a good thing, but over time many of the key organic practices have been diluted to allow huge corporations to benefit (putting smaller producers out of business) while largely continuing the spirit of their prior practice. As organics gained economic ground, the larger scale portion of the industry took over writing the rules, creating a kind of “big” and “small” organic. Organic milk and eggs in most grocery stores are familiar examples. But produce is not exempt.
Since consumers have been willing to pay more for organic foods, we’ve seen many, including grocers, who were more than willing to take your whole paycheck. But we’ve always attempted to make our organically grown food available to all in the Pittsburgh region, gifting to foodbank and any family who can't afford our organic foods.
What does this have to do with our CSA program? We were practically alone as organic or even sustainable growers in Pittsburgh 40 years ago. Now, there are any number of other options in the market. We would think you know where the others stand on many key environmental issues. Read between the lines. There are a number of CSA which are conventionally grown, or feature “naturally grown” produce. Others are really an amalgamation of crops grown by a large number of growers. Though some of those growers might be organic, many are not.
We try our best to have a personal relationship with our subscribers—you get to know how we farm, what we believe in, are passionate about, and share in our joys and struggles. It's like having your own garden--gluts of tomatoes in August, none in early June; tons of greens early and late in the season, few in the heat; fruit only in its season; variations year to year, crop by crop; wins and losses.
It's traditional seasonal eating with crops appropriate to our region. We aim for quantities to fit your family. We try to waste nothing. Your own garden would tug you in that thrifty direction as well.