To receive a big box of fresh fruits and veggies, herbs and mushrooms straight from local farmers, many city-dwellers sign up for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). By skipping the grocery store and buying direct from the farmer, subscribers' annual fees help small scale agriculturalists gain the support they need to survive in a Big Ag world. The system has proven to be hugely popular, and now other landowners are coming up with new varieties of community support.
Last week, while visiting family in Wisconsin, I heard that forest owners Roald Gundersen and Amelia Baxter of Hamburg, Wisc., have started what they call a Community Supported Forest. Although a few landowners offer Community Supported Forestry as a way people can obtain sustainably grown and harvested wood, Baxter and Gundersen told the La Crosse Tribune that they haven't heard of any other effort than theirs that offers as many resources to subscribers. The two told Tribune reporter Chris Hubbuch:
"For a $550 annual contribution, members get (unlimited and selective) access to the 140-acre valley about 12 miles south of La Crosse. They can camp, hunt and garden on the land. They can forage for mushrooms, garlic mustard and wild ginger. They can get firewood, sustainably milled lumber, landscaping stone or fresh spring water.
In addition, members can attend workshops on beer making, beekeeping, natural building and other topics."
Four of the 20 available spots have been filled since the two announced their plan about a couple of months ago.
This idea has a "back to the land" feel to it, and I can see many locavore enthusiasts being attracted to it. And in addition to helping people have access to local woodlands, I like Community Supported Forests because it's a model that stems from another. It makes me wonder, what else will be community supported in the future?
Image credit: Whole Trees Architecture
In many ways this is quite similar to what hunting clubs have been doing for years, just without the hunting.