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CSA Farming a bonus for us all

According to a 2012 Gallup poll, Americans spend an average of $151 a week on food. Our age group — ages 18-29 – tend to spend the most, at an average of $173.

Our fast-paced world has made it so we don’t have to grow or raise all of the food we eat. Really, we don’t have to think too much about what we put in our bodies and how it affects our community.

These are the things we should be thinking about.

Northeast of Vermillion sits the Heikes Family Farm. The farm is run by  Sam Heikes, who worked as a production agronomist for 35 years before returning to Vermillion to found the farm. Heikes got his degree in agronomy from South Dakota State University, and now provides college students fresh produce for a reasonable price.

The Heikes Family Farm is one of many Community Supported Agriculture farms. For a relatively small fee, known as a share, a subscriber can go to the Heike farm and pick out a basket of vegetables of his or her choosing, depending on the season.

This community-building practice is gaining steam around the country, too. In 2007, the US Department of Agriculture released findings that America was home to 12,549 CSA-style farms. That number has been growing, keeping pace with the rising national concern for environmentally-conscious eating.

At the center of this concern is local eating. According to a 2007 Health Facts report by the NRDC, the transportation of food causes massive amounts of pollutants to be released into the atmosphere. In fact, the report claims that “when you combined all locally grown food, it still produced less carbon dioxide emissions in transport than any one imported product.”

In addition to cutting down on pollution, CSA-style farms offer a way to support local economies. Instead of splitting your dollars between all of the middlemen involved in the sale of food, CSA-style farms offer a one-to-one, direct channel sales method. They also tend to be rather lucrative for the farmers themselves.

Of course, Community Supported farms would be nothing without the community, and that is where these farms shine. In addition to getting fruits, vegetables and other produce, subscribers to a CSA-style farm get the benefit of getting to know their community better — not only do you get to know the people who grow your food, but you meet all of the people who are also eating from the same field.

College students tend not to think too much about our food, apart from its effect on our waistline. However, the Heikes Family Farm gives all of us the opportunity to start.