CSAs move a little closer to home


Growing up with a farm background, I always felt bad for those folks whose families didn’t have access to field fresh produce.

CSAs have helped bridge that divide between the “haves” and “have not’s” of produce. They allow people living in the city access to the very freshest veggies, typically picked within a day of delivery.

Of course, many CSAs are based in fields far from the metro. I personally subscribe to a CSA through the Seward Co-Op that gets its produce from a Decorah, Iowa field.

That’s why I was delighted to discover a much closer CSA in the middle of Minneapolis, Concrete Beet Farmers. Started last year by six local twenty-something entrepreneurs, this CSA seeks to cut out the transportation element by growing and selling in the neighborhood.

Thus far, their 15th Ave South location has been doing well. With share capacity maxed out, they are able to sell excess produce to non-subscribing customers and a few local businesses (Common Roots Cafe in Minneapolis and St. Paul Cheese Shop).

Eliminating the carbon footprint, they bike to all of their customers. Taking advantage of the current downturn in the housing market, the group has been able to lease three lots, all in residential areas of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

In the spirit of things, I biked over to 2820 15th Ave, all of ten minutes from my Minneapolis home, to volunteer for a bit and see how a CSA functions.

Ten-ish people, all appearing to be under 30, were there with bikes parked on the side of the mini-farm. Milk crates from local grocery stores and a collective bunch of gardening tools were all being put to work hoeing and tilling the ground where many, many varieties of vegetables had sprung up quite nicely from the recently rainy weather.

Digging in the dirt, picking at weeds around lettuce plants took me back to my agricultural youth for a few hours. But it was a little jarring when I look up. Instead of an expansive green horizon that reaches out to the clouds, I saw a compact street lined with cars and houses.

As you pass through life, don’t forget to stop and weed the cucumbers every once in awhile.