Community Supported Agriculture, a model where consumers purchase shares from a local farm and receive weekly allotments of fruits and vegetables throughout the growing season, provides opportunities for consumers to buy healthy, fresh and seasonal foods direct from farmers. With increasing numbers of CSA farms in Iowa, finding nearby CSAs can be a daunting task for the would-be CSA subscriber.
Practical Farmers of Iowa will help make that process easier this year for central Iowans by hosting its inaugural CSA Expo, March 31 and April 1, as part of the 2012 Natural Living Expo at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Des Moines. The CSA Expo will feature several central Iowa CSA farmers, who will be on hand to answer questions, sign up new members and explain how CSAs benefit farmers, consumer s and the community. Event hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on March 31, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 1. Admission is $5 for adults, and free for anyone under 18.
Farmers from several central Iowa counties will be showcased, including: Adair, Boone, Dallas, Hancock, Marion, Polk, Poweshiek and Story counties.
Learn about central Iowa CSAs, benefits of buying produce direct from farmers
Andrew Dunham, co-owner of Grinnell Heritage Farm, says CSAs help people eat healthier by providing regular access to produce that's fresher than what they can find in grocery stores. And pre-selling produce to consumers before the main field season helps farmers better balance their finances while allowing more time to focus on crop care during the hectic growing season.
"If you're looking to improve your diet, having a CSA share is a great way to expand your food horizon," Dunham says. "You'll have lot of foods you can work with from scratch, that will be really fresh and taste good. CSA memberships are a very action-oriented step to eating better. And from the farmer's perspective, the great thing is I can focus energy on growing things and actually farming. "
More information about the farmers who will be featured at the expo can be found in a new PFI guide, available to download at http://tinyurl.com/CentralIACSAGUIDE.
Join Practical Farmers of Iowa at CSA Expo, which is part of Natural Living Expo
Those who attend the CSA Expo will also have a chance to browse more than 100 exhibitors at the Natural Living Expo offering natural, green, holistic and renewable products in categories spanning food and drink, green building, health and wellness, renewable energy, home and garden, family, education, recreation and community organizations.
The Natural Living Expo will also feature hands-on classes and workshops, live entertainment and special activities for children. Both the CSA Expo and Natural Living Expo will be held at Veterans Memorial Auditorium, located at 833 5th Ave. in downtown Des Moines. For more information and a list of exhibitors, visit http://www.naturallivingexpo.org/.
Founded in 1985, Practical Farmers of Iowa is an open, supportive and diverse organization of farmers and friends of farmers, advancing profitable, ecologically sound and community-enhancing approaches to agriculture through farmer-to-farmer networking, farmer-led investigation and information sharing. Farmers in PFI's network produce corn, soybeans, beef cattle, hay, fruits and vegetables and more. For additional information call 515.232.5661 or visit www.practicalfarmers.org.