On Thursday nights, Cody Gusto sets up his tent and waits for customers to pick up their freshly packed produce.
University of Florida’s Office of Sustainability created the Gator Community Support Agriculture program back in fall 2010. This program provides a convenient way for UF students and Gainesville community members to receive locally grown produce.
“It’s really fulfilling work for people to see and understand directly where their food comes from,” said Gusto, CSA coordinator at Frog Song Organics. “To be on the providing end of that is real neat.”
Gator CSA, amembership program, allows members to pay a given amount of money at the beginning of the season, according to the UF Office of Sustainability website. In return, the participating farmers supply fresh produce to consumers for the season. Family Garden, Frog Song Organics and Siembra Farms support the 2015-2016 growing year.
“It’s a great avenue to connect with people and bridge consumer producer pathways,” Gusto said.
Fruits and vegetables are available throughout the season to consumer-members, along with a variety of other farm products, according to the UF sustainability website.
Caroline Young, CSA member and mechanical engineering student, browses and collects her fresh produce every Thursday at the Agronomy Teaching Farm.
“We’re used to just Publix veggies,” Young said. “The best part about CSA is you get to try new things and know you are supporting local farms, which is really nice too.”
The long lasting relationships built between the consumer and producer makes Cody Galligan, owner of Siembra Farms, come back to Gator CSA year after year.
“With wholesale, you see a semi-truck pull up and a truck driver and that’s about the only person you get to interact with,” Galligan said.
As an alternative to industrial and conventional food processing, CSA engages the community through food sustainability.
“You’re not transporting food for thousands of miles,” Galligan said. “10 miles is really the most we travel to transport our food.”
“I care about where the food I’m eating comes from,” Young said. “I think everyone should too.”
This is a great alternative for students’ healthy eating too! Through research, I found this program and visited their setup. The farmers were extremely nice and willing to walk me through the whole program. I think every student living on campus should really consider this program. Picking up fresh fruits and veggies is extremely affordable and only a bus ride away!